Masked Rider is an American television series produced by Saban Entertainment that aired from 1995 through 1996. In much the same way as Power Rangers with Super Sentai, this show was adapted from the ninth Kamen Rider series Kamen Rider BLACK RX. Like Power Rangers series that have recontextualized the source footage from their original plots, Masked Rider recontextualizes Black RX's footage by using it to fit a Sitcom type show with a more... traditional Sci-Fi premise.
The plot concerned a young alien prince named Dex, sent from a distant planet Edenoi to fight against his wicked uncle Count Dregon and his Insectovores. Having already rendered Edenoi near-uninhabitable, Dregon has turned his attention to Earth.
Dex arrives in a town named Leawood and is adopted by a multiracial American family, dad Hal (white), mom Barbara (East Asian), sister Molly (white) and brother Albee (black). Dex also brought along his pet bipedal duck/bear creature named Ferbus.
Dex was introduced in a three-part episode in the beginning of the third season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, but the show itself had no references to that series. Whilst the pilot left Edenoi with somewhat of a Downer Ending by the end of the third part, the changes in the series ignored this ending. If nothing else, Dex's guest appearance in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was the closest thing to a Rider/Sentai crossover until the 2009 Decade/Shinkenger team-up.note
Until 2009's Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, it was the only American adaptation of Kamen Rider. Still, the show does have a cult fandom and introduced many to the Kamen Rider franchise. Some of the background music was later used in Saban's dub of Digimon Adventure.
It is not to be confused with the lost silent western film serial 1919 The Masked Rider.
Tropes featured in Masked Rider include:
- Adapted Out: The comic book adaptation by Marvel Comics leaves out Doubleface.
- The show itself leaves out Dasmader, likely because his part in RX wouldn’t make sense with Masked Rider’s re-contextualisation.
- Alpha Bitch: Patsy is your garden variety stuck-up high school girl.
- Amusing Alien: Dex has traces of this at times. One example would be that his race, Edenites, derive from insects instead of apes — so guess what he answered on an Earth biology test on the subject of human origins...
- Aside Glance: Ferbus gives us a wink at the end of "Escape to Edenoi, Part 2".
- Bad Boss: Like most villains, Count Dregon has absolutely zero tolerance for failure.
- Barbaric Bully: Bubba Lamarskovitch is like the trope made flesh.
- Big Bad: Count Dregon is the main antagonist.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: The Masked Rider Warriors (the show's counterpart to Kotaro's Rider predecessors in RX) had their names accidentally switched during the roll call due to an inconsistency between how the Japanese footage was edited and how it was actually dubbed.note The results are hilarious, with the part where Sky Rider proclaims himself to be "Amazon" becoming a popular meme.
- Yet strangely, not only does Kamen Rider ZX keep his name, but it's pronounced correctlynote .
- Batman in My Basement: When Ferbus first arrived, Molly and Albee had to hide him due to Hal's allergies, but Hal is not allergic anymore around Ferbus; once he revealed himself, Ferbus was accepted as part of the family.
- Being Good Sucks: In the Christmas Episode, Dex hopes to spend the holiday with Lexian, but the old man can't. He regrettably tells Dex that their respective responsibilities and the people counting on them have to count for more, even on a holiday all about family togetherness. A little Santa magic, though, makes the needed difference.
- Bowdlerize: The Electro Saber was made to shoot fireballs as stabbing monsters through the body and out again was deemed "too violent". (Strangely, the nigh-identical Laser Lance finisher in VR Troopers was not altered.) Possibly because Masked Rider aired on network television, while VR Troopers aired in syndication, meaning the latter could get away with it due to fewer restrictions. There's also the fact that most of the villains in VR Troopers were robots, and the show can and did say destroyed villains would be rebuilt (to explain why they could be seen in recycled crowd shots if nothing else.) With how about two thirds of the monsters on Masked Rider were aliens or mutants, maybe they didn't think they could get away with goring obviously living opponents through with a lightsaber.
- Ironically averted in one of the later episodes where Dex destroys Ocusect by stabbing her through her giant eye! To be more specific she switches from her humanoid form to her giant flying eyeball form and Dex throws his electro saber at her, stabbing right through the eye. He then grabs hold of his weapon with her still attached and thrusts it in for a few moments while Ocusect writhes in pain and THEN explodes. Possibly because in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers a precedent was set in the episode "I, Eye Guy" when Billy gored Eye Guy's main eye, nearly destroying him.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Donais, to become the Robo Rider. Also, Dregon once brainwashed Barbara to replace Nefaria when he got fed up with her.
- Bumbling Dad: Hal is an incompetent father due to also being a Bungling Inventor.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: "Ectophase Activate!"
- Catchphrase: "It'll take a lot more than that to stop Masked Rider!"
- Character as Himself: Ferbus (partially justified as he was an animatronic puppet in the first few episodes before becoming a guy in a suit).
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Ferrian and Zarius, two of Dax's Edenite friends, are never seen again after the first episode. Lexian is shown to guide Dax on occasion and Donais returns twice to deliver power-ups to his friend, but Ferrian and Zarius are just plain gone.
- Bobby Brigmore, a male student who Patsy is interested in but seemingly has eyes for Molly, only appears in the opening two-parter and is never mentioned afterward.
- Christmas Episode: "Ferbus' First Christmas", which has Santa grant Dex's wish of his grandfather visiting him and his adoptive human family.
- Claymation: Hydrasect in her second form and the fight against her.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Marvel Comics published a one-shot comic adaptation of the show in 1996 that crossed over with Marvel's adaptation of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
- Compressed Adaptation: A downplayed example. Masked Rider was given 40 episodes to Black RX's 47, including the incorporation of elements from unrelated films ZO and J.
- Cool Big Bro: Dex to Albee, who looks up to him with enthusiasm as any little brother would.
- Cool Bike: Combat Chopper
- Cool Car: Magno is a talking car that changes from a giant bug.
- Crappy Holidays:
- Decomposite Character: From Black RX, General Jark's One-Winged Angel form, Jark Midler, becomes Dregonator, an evil(er) clone of Count Dregon, to the point that both characters appear together in original footage.
- Dem Bones: The Skull Reapers are skeletal minions.
- Demoted to Extra: The true Big Bad of Black RX, Emperor Crisis, was just a monster named Lavasect here- so named because it was trapped in the Earth's core for 10 billion years.
- Elite Mook: Plague Patrol
- Evil Knockoff: "Mixed Doubles" has Count Dregon create evil clones of Dex's adoptive human family.
- Evil Uncle: Count Dregon is Dex's uncle.
- Fisher King: Count Dregon turned the lush and pristine Edenoi into a barren hellhole according to Dex's monologue in "Escape from Edenoi"
- Food Fight: Ferbus caused one in "Escape from Edenoi, Part 2" when he threw a pie at a Maggot's back. Patsy ends up getting a Pie in the Face when she tries to look out the door.
- Frankenslation: While primarily based on Kamen Rider BLACK RX, six of the show's forty episodes included footage from the Kamen Rider films Kamen Rider ZO and Kamen Rider J, adapting all but one villain (Garai/Cobra Man of Kamen Rider J) from the two movies as Monsters Of The Week.
- ZO's footage was used in Escape From Edenoi parts 1 and 2 (with separate fight scenes for Doras and later a monster from Black RX) and Cat-Atomic (which again had two major fight scenes, one with the minor monster Koumori Man and one with a monster from Black RX).
- J's footage was used in Saturday Morning Invasion (with Fog Mother as Ultivore) and Ectophase Albee (minor monster Agito/Lizard Man).
- Footage from both movies was used in Stranger From the North, which began by using J's minor monster Zu/Bee Woman as Hydrasect and switching to ZO's monster Kumo Woman as her more powerful form Arachnida.
- Green Aesop: One episode deals with one of Count Dregon's servant Cyclopter making a monster out of parts from older monsters that had been destroyed. Once Dex/Masked Rider destroys it, Count Dregon admits that recycling can be most useful at saving money/energy...but notes that all of the materials needed to be sorted and labeled first, and so sends Cyclopter to do it.
- Happily Adopted: The Stewarts welcome Dex into their home the moment they meet him. He quickly regards Hal and Barbara as his parents, and Molly and Albee as his siblings.
- Hero for a Day: Albee accidentally getting Dex's Masked Rider powers.
- Turns out it was just a daydream.
- Human Aliens: The Edenites, they look human but evolve from bugs.
- I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: Averted. Dex's superhuman reflexes make him a master at the (likely less violent) in-universe expy of Mortal Kombat. He eventually quits it because he's too good at it, considering his skills cheating.
- Dex is so good at video games, the overload of WIN can break the TV! Wait...
- I Have No Nephew!: Justified. It’s because of their relationship that Count Dregon and Dex rarely acknowledge each other as family members.
- In the Name of the Moon: Dex does this at times. More particularly during the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers crossover.
- Insult Backfire: In "Bugs on the Loose".Masked Rider: You're just as ugly as I expected.
- Jedi Mind Trick: Roborider uses this trick on the Principal when he infiltrates the school.Principal: May I see your hall pass?Roborider: (zaps with lasers) You will say never mind!Principal: Uh, never mind...
- Jerkass: Henry Wall in "Arcade Ace" refuses to let children play the arcade games and makes Albee buy him sundaes after Dex forfeits their game challenge.
- He's small potatoes compared to Bubba Lamarskovitch in "Showdown at Leawood High", though the latter does get better by the end.
- Kiai: Dex does dramatic yells. A lot.
- "Now villains! You shall know the Power of the Masked Rider...and the Power Rangers! EY-YUH! HEY-YUH! HUH! EY-YAH! EY-YAH! HEY-YAH! EY-YAH!"
- "Don't you know it's illegal to impersonate a driving instructor, buddy? Now I'm gonna have to teach you a little lesson! EY-YAH! HUH! EY-YAH! HUH...Uh-hoh!"
- Kirk's Rock: Features prominently in many episodes, just as in related series.
- Laser Blade: Masked Rider's Electro Saber.
- Literal-Minded: DexHal: Long day at the office, huh?
Dex: Excuse me? I wasn't in any office today.
Barbara: Never mind.
- Made of Explodium: A literal example, in one episode where a monster with banana weaponry was actually trying to steal a substance called Explodium.
- Monster of the Week: Here it's somewhat justified in that Count Dregon only sends one monster at a time: sending them all is actually suggested in the premiere, but he says that all those monsters could not be controlled at once.
- Mooks: Maggots are the standard foot soldier for Count Dregon, they always come in threes.
- Morality Pet: Herbie is this to Patsy, especially in “Battle of the Bands”.
- Narrator: Used at the end of each episode over the end credits where he would talk humorously about the events of the episode.Will Hal's TV quit smoking? Will Dex ever learn to take his clothes off before he showers? All this and more on the next exciting adventure of... Masked Rider!
- Though played straight in Multi-Part Episodes, where he would often say something serious and relevant to the episode's plot.
- No Ending: Much like with some of the other Saban adaptations, the series never had a proper conclusion, as it was canceled rather abruptly - in fact, if one was to watch episode 40 without knowing it's the last episode, they'd be forgiven for thinking it's an episode from somewhere in the middle of the series.
- Orcus on His Throne: For the most part, Count Dregon rarely leaves the Spider Base, let alone fight and interact with Dex a few times.
- Raised by Grandparents: Dex was raised by his grandfather.
- Robotic Reveal: In "License to Thrill", Dex finds out Mr. Lee has been replaced by one of Count Dregon's monsters, Larvatron.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Gork speaks in rhyme.
- Secret Chaser: Principal Chalmers has an obsessive suspicion of Dex's unusual behavior. Although he means no harm, Chalmers constantly keeps his eyes on Dex hoping to find answers.
- Secret-Keeper: Dex's human family are the only ones who know that he's really the Masked Rider.
- Shout-Out: In "License to Thrill", when Hal tries to trade breakfast with Dex who's eating sugary cereal, Dex says "Silly Squirrel, Frosty Puffs are for kids!".Hal: You let him watch TV again all night, didn't you?
- Show Within a Show: An episode of Power Rangers Time Force shows Masked Rider as this. Best to not think about this.
- A few conversations about the episode with a Promoted Fanboy chalks up the Masked Rider television series to be something Dex created when the battles with Dregon were over and he settled on Earth.note
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Masked Rider's talking vehicles Magno and Combat Chopper tend to bicker.
- Spared by the Adaptation
- Due to the series ending without the resolution of Black RX, all the recurring villains, from Count Dregon himself to Nefaria, Cyclopter, Doubleface, Gork and Fact are spared the fates of their counterparts who all ended up dead. Dregon especially so since what would have been his One-Winged Angel form was adapted into a seperate character as just another Monster of the Week.
- Hal and Barbara Stewart are spared the shocking deaths of Shunkichi and Utako Sahara at the hands of Jark Midler (Dregonator).
- Stock Footage: Aside from the obvious use of RX footage, expect to see reused shots from time to time.
- Strictly Formula: As with Power Rangers, the show mostly focuses on Dex and his family (or friends) finding a new experience, Count Dregon taking advantage of it, launching an Insectivore and Dex resolving everything as both himself and as his super hero alter ego.
- Subordinate Excuse: Nefaria is shown on occasion to have the hots for Dregon, but he either doesn't care or cares more about conquest than her affections. Hell, he even replaces her with a brainwashed Barbara once, showing how disposable he views her.
- Super-Speed Reading: In "Pet Nappers", Albee noticed Dex turning the pages pretty quick as he's taking notes.Albee: Do you always read at that speed?
Dex: Oh no, I'm going slow so I can make some notes.
[Albee does a Double Take]
- Surrounded by Idiots: While Count Dregon’s clique of followers (including Fact) are almost as smart as he is, he nevertheless follows the “90s kids villain” party-line of treating his henchmen as if they were of low intelligence.
- Sword Beam: This is Dex' finisher when using the Electro Saber. In fact, he is never seen using it as a melee weapon at all. This is a result of Bowdlerization, as the title character of Black RX finished his opponents by stabbing them rather violently. Naturally, the Moral Guardians did not approve, fearing children would imitate this, so they forced the showrunners to make the Masked Rider shoot his enemies to death...with a sword.
- That Man Is Dead: Robo Rider denies his past as Donais.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Robo Rider feels that only he is allowed to defeat Masked Rider.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: As far as Dex's history of Edenoi is concerned, Count Dregon's reign proved to be disastrous due to his apathy and he was apparently too proud to admit that is not much of a good king compared to his own father.
- Villains Want Mercy: Inverted, Dex usually offers villains multiple chances to surrender, and none of them take it. It's kind of the opposite of VR Troopers, where the monsters almost always surrender but are finished off anyway.
- We Can Rule Together: In "Mixed Doubles", Count Dregon gives the proposal to Dex that he can join him in his conquest. Dex, of course, turns him down.