Power Rangers Dino Thunder

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Dino Thunder, Power Up!"
"White Ranger, Dino Power!"

It's the first day of school in Reefside, and three students have already run afoul of the Sadist Teacher and are given detention. Thankfully, the new biology teacher doesn't want to be stuck with watching them, so he tells them that if they go out and bring back something prehistoric for his paleontology studies, he'll call it off. During their search, they stumble into a secret lab and decide to swipe some ancient-looking gemstones to fill the requirement.

The good news here is that the gems were infused with energies from the impact that wiped out the dinosaurs, and have already "bonded" with the students, giving them superpowers. The bad news is that a saurian Mad Scientist wants their power to start a new age of dinosaurs and is coming after the kids. The really bad news is that the gems are Clingy Macguffins, and taking their power requires killing the current hosts.

The really, really good news is that the new bio teacher is none other than Dr. Thomas "Tommy" Oliver, and he's had a little experience with this kind of thing.

Doug Sloan, Ann Austen, Jackie Marchand and Jason David Frank all return in season 12 of Power Rangers, based on Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger. The dinosaur theme apparently made everyone nostalgic and as the season also boasted the 500th episode (a clipshow episode where the show recapped each incarnation of the franchise to create a coherent universe of the shows) and a rarity in the form of an episode of Abaranger, which was given a gag dub as far as being a show within a show. On the negative side though: due to contract issues, Jason David Frank only really appeared in half of the season, with the character spending most of the season frozen in amber or invisible/only visible in morphed form. Also, besides pacing issues and the anti-climactic reveal about the identity of Zeltrax, there were serious issues with adapting Abaranger as far as dealing with the villainous AbareKiller (aka the White Drago Ranger): a clone of the character was created to let them use the AbareKiller footage while allowing them to do a redemption arc with the character, which was poorly done. Also perpetuated was the joke that Tommy likes to sacrifice his zords. But fun characters and their relations and interactions can make up for it, and come on, everyone knows Tommy is the most morphinomenal Ranger EVER.

(Offended Jason fans are invited to take this opportunity to rewatch Forever Red, and revel in his clearly-displayed badassitude. Offended fans of other Red Rangers are politely reminded that First Installment Wins. Sorry!)

Also of note is that there is only one female Ranger, though it's only the second PR season to do that.

Succeeded by Power Rangers SPD

Has a character sheet.

Recurring Power Rangers tropes include:
This subseries contains examples of:

Zeltrax: You're not getting through that portal unless you're in chains!
Kira: I might be able to pull that look off, but these guys? No way!

Conner: I can't believe we didn't work it out! They look exactly the same, except one wears glasses.
Ethan: Hey, Clark Kent and Superman look the same, but no one ever puts that together.

Mesogog: The citizens of Reefside will think that idiot Lothor has returned.

    • Tommy's Dino Morpher works differently than the others. His is activated by inserting a key and turning it. You know, like the last one he used.
    • A subtle one to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Zordon mentioned that two identical Pink Rangers at the same place and same time would be dangerous. When there are two White Rangers with exact same powers existing at the same time, it begins to make one breakdown completely, forcing a battle to the death between the two.
  • Contractual Genre Blindness: Tommy, for not suggesting that the Rangers check for somebody who has started wearing white once the White Ranger shows up. Especially bad considering his Lampshade Hanging earlier in the series.
    • Like Tommy though, Trent already wore a lot of his Ranger color before he ever became a Ranger.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mercer is teased as one.
  • Cute Bruiser: Kira
  • Dark Secret: Trent, the White Drago Ranger, is the adoptive son of Anton Mercer, a.k.a. Mesogog.
  • Death Glare: Tommy gives Trent one when the rest of the team finds out the above.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Cassidy
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: The Funky Fisherman in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mackerel" is a G-rated version, as he's more cranky than anything else.
  • Deus Ex Machina: Multiple, sometimes more than one for the same problem because the first one didn't solve it and almost always with a more logical alternative already introduced in the story.
  • E=MC Hammer: Some of Dr. O's lessons.
  • Evasive Fight Thread Episode: The first time the Dino team fights the brainwashed Wind Rangers, it's an aversion -- the Dinos lose badly. The second time (unmorphed) is a little more even, and the other Ninja Storm Rangers interrupt before they can morph.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: As above, but also used literally as a plot point: Mesogog believes this to the point where his master plan is to turn the entire human population into dinosaurs.
  • Evil Counterpart: Replicant Zord was the dark version of Thundersaurus Megazord after Ugly Monster transfer into the robot.
  • Evil Knockoff: The White Drago Ranger clone.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Brainwashed Trent/White Ranger Clone.
  • Evil Teacher: Elsa as Principal Randall.
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: While the helmets on their suits don't count, safety helmets are used a lot to the point of Fridge Logic. There's one instance of a helmet appearing out of nowhere between shots, when Tommy has to drive a barely-conscious Elsa out of the area on an ATV. Earlier, Tommy also makes a point of fastening his seat belt before driving off even though the freaking Tyrannosaur chasing him seemed to be the greater safety hazard.
    • Lampshaded by the man himself: "Yeah, lock the door, Tommy. Real good."
      • In a jeep with the top down no less!
  • Foe Yay: Elsa and Tommy.
  • Gag Dub: "Lost and Found in Translation", obviously.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Hayley.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In "Fighting Spirit", Tommy's comeback episode, the Thundermax Megazord's drill, if you watch carefully, impales the Monster of the Day through a mountain.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Elsa has a scar running from her lower lip to the bottom of her chin, painted black with just-visible stitches. Ironically, it acts like a 'good' scar, staying hidden and not detracting from her looks, but denotes her as a villain.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The Raptor Riders
  • Iconic Character: Tommy
  • Idol Singer: Kira
  • Improbable Age: In the beginning of the franchise, Tommy was a moderately good student grades-wise that was forgetful to the point that fans claim he has Swiss cheese for a brain. Come Dino Thunder, he's managed to get a PhD in six years or less, among other things (such as the whole "mad scientist, then got teaching license" thing, plus whatever he was doing during "Forever Red").

Adam: I still can't believe he's a Doctor...

  • Internal Homage: The first episode, "Day of the Dino", is a reference to the first episode of MMPR, "Day of the Dumpster."
  • Intrepid Reporter: Or so Cassidy wishes.
  • Invisible Main Character: Tommy, for a while
  • Island Base: Mesogog's lab fortress
  • It's Probably Nothing: Ethan shoots this down in the first episode. "That ain't the wind. As much as we'd like it to be... it ain't."
  • Jerk Jock: Conner, at first. By a few episodes in, he's already completed the transformation to Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Leitmotif: The Brachiozord. Just... the Brachiozord.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: With the Ninja Storm Rangers. For years this was the series' only teamup episode to do this, until the Red RPM and Samurai Rangers had a brawl.
  • Literal Split Personality: After having enough of fighting Anton for the body they shared, Mesogog decided to separate himself from Mercer so he could be around 24/7. No longer attached to an innocent man, the Rangers were free to take him down.
  • Liquid Assets: One MOTW sucks youth from victims in "Diva In Distress", including Devin, Cassidy, and Kira's pop star friend.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Mesogog is the Super-Powered Evil Side of Trent's foster dad.
  • Maximum Fun Chamber: Mesogog's unseen punishment chamber.
  • Medium Blending: The episode "Drawn into Danger", where the Dino Thunder Rangers were Rotoscoped.
  • Metaphor Is My Middle Name
  • Meaningful Name: Elsa is the name of a heroine from Wagner's operas, who was in love with a man whose face she could never see.
    • Conner's name as well--his first name is the name of an Irish king, and his last, McKnight, is Scottish-English, the name in combination essentially being 'Irish king who is also a warrior'. Ironically, Disney didn't bother playing with this in casting, and Conner acts VERY American.
    • Kira's first name means 'Sun, Light', which is appropriate given that she's the Yellow Ranger.
    • Ethan's name means 'Strong'.
    • 'Anton' is a form of Arthur, as in King Arthur, and his last name, 'Mercer', means 'son of Mercury'...or, weirdly enough, 'shopkeeper\merchant'.
  • Mind Rape: Mesogog does this to keep his subordinates in line.
  • Milestone Celebration: The 500th episode "Legacy of Power".
    • Also, "Fighting Spirit" aired on the 11th anniversary of the show's premiere.
  • Missing Episode: Not an episode, but there's a little bit of footage that most Dino Thunder fans would kill to see. On the day they were filming the video for Kira's song "Patiently," they were also filming some scenes with Mesogog. Latham Gaines says that the video filming ran long, so he's sitting around bored... until he had an idea. Somewhere, sitting on a dusty archive shelf, is footage of Gaines, in full Mesogog makeup, singing Kira's song "Patiently," and according to him, he was going full Celine Dion on the whole thing.
  • Mythology Gag: Tons. Tommy is usually the culprit. He keeps Sentai logos and MMPR publicity pictures on file and before suiting up as the Black Brachio Ranger, the Rangers found him suspiciously familiar with how all this stuff works. The biggest gag is probably when the Power Trio spent all of "Lost And Found In Translation" watching a dubbed episode of Abaranger (bad Hong Kong translations and all!)
    • And Connor says his twin brother went to the Wind Ninja Academy. It was really funny in context.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: So Elsa, how did handing out detentions work out for you?
  • Not Himself: All the teens have an attitude adjustment in "Leader of the Whack": Conner's the nerd and Ethan's the jock, Kira's a prissy girly-girl, Devin's a ladies' man and Cassidy's a Shrinking Violet.
  • Not Quite Dead: Mesogog shows up for one more fight at the end of the season, causing the Rangers to lose their powers.
  • Oh Crap, There Are Fanfics of Us/Who Would Want to Watch Us?: "Lost and Found in Translation"
  • Older and Wiser: Tommy
  • Older Than They Look: Jeffrey Parazzo was 26 when he played Trent, and Jason David Frank looked a quite bit younger than his actual age during filming, too (31).
    • Jason's (Tommy's) case is actually Lampshaded by Cassidy in the first episode when she questions whether he's old enough to be a teacher. Tommy responds by saying 'I can assure you, I'm old enough'.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Averted with Tommy... by applying it to Hayley:

Hayley: Tommy's good with dinosaurs and fossils, but a rocket scientist? He ain't.
Conner: And lemme guess: you are?
Hayley: Among other things.

Hayley: "Did I forget to mention that?"
(the Rangers, Conner in particular, give her a look)
Hayley (sheepishly): "I... take that as a 'yes'."

  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: the Thundersaurus Megazord's Pterarang
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Mercer
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: "Tutenhawken's Curse"
  • Put on a Bus: The Raptor Riders were replaced by the Raptor Cycles - and rarely used again - after one episode.
  • Red Herring: Hints keep occuring that Mercer is actually The Dragon, Zeltrax. But he's actually the Big Bad, Mesogog.
    • Alternately, the hints are that Mercer is Mesogog himself. True only in a technical sense; while they share a body Mercer is actually good and fighting Mesogog.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The fact that Hayley has such an intellectual ability, and yet is only the owner of an internet café (to whoever's looking from the outside, at least) is rather baffling.
  • Refusal of the Call: Kira in the premiere; Conner in the second episode. Neither sticks.
  • Resistance Is Futile: Zeltrax gives the line to a kidnapped actress. "Hey, I was up for that part!"
  • Rival Turned Evil: Zeltrax is actually Tommy's old colleague/friend Smitty, who is never mentioned until the episode where Zeltrax is unmasked).
  • Same Character but Different: Tommy. A doctor of paleontology? Really?
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Ethan to a dance monster.
  • Ship Sinking: Not in the series itself but due to the fact Tommy is single, he's obviously not with Kimberly or Kat
  • Ship Tease: Kira and Trent, as well as Anton and Elsa in the finale.
  • Shout-Out: Two episodes (the fifth, "Back in Black", where Tommy returns to duty, and the two-parter finale, "Thunder Struck") are named after ACDC song titles, for some reason.
    • You need a reason?
    • Plus a ton of Shout Outs to the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
    • It's a bit of a stretch, but the Funky Fisherman, and his sidekick the giant talking fish, are nautically-themed children's characters. Only one other example springs to mind...
    • While not officially stated in the show proper, Douglas Sloan has stated that Hayley has the last name of Ziktor.
    • The Dino Thunder logo, designed by Tommy, is presumably awfully similar to a certain Dragonzord symbol that he once wore...
    • Dragon War, a card game that uses many similarities to both "War" and "Yu-Gi-Oh!". Two notable ones are the Magic Arrow card, and the Ruby Dragon card. The former looks quite a lot like the Living Arrow card. The latter is the most powerful card, and happens to have the same coloring as Osiris/Slifer, one of the Egyptian God Cards (and just as powerful).
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Dino Thunder in general outlook is basically the first season of Mighty Morphin pushed a bit further towards the Cynicism side.
  • Something Completely Different: Rather than adapting an Abaranger episode, "Lost And Found In Translation" is an Abaranger episode, with the U.S. Rangers as a framing device.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Fans use both Conner and Connor. In-show, he specifically tells one person "Conner with an E-R".
  • Sssssnaketalk: Mesogog
  • Stealth Insult: During the Ninja Storm teamup, Mesogog greets Lothor with "Your reputation precedes you." (consider the above-mentioned Continuity Nod from the premiere.)
  • Storming the Castle: The Rangers, Hayley, and a Mack truck attack Mesogog's island fortress while Trent rescues Anton. It even happens at the same time as Zeltrax is trashing the Dino Lab.
  • Strapped to An Operating Table: Tommy in "Legacy of Power". Kira in the premiere. Trent, too, and even to himself (well actually, Anton Mercer) at one point. Don't forget Elsa in the finale. Mesogog really likes doing this to people.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Sacrificing the Zords at the end of the season when there were still more options.
  • Such a Lovely Noun: Trent to Elsa in "House of Cards" after she blew her cover. She throws the fact that the other Rangers don't know that Mesogog is Anton right back at him.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Pay attention to the end of "Beneath The Surface", just after Principal Randall shoots down Tommy's advances - you can hear the opening bars of "Where Is The Love" by the Black Eyed Peas in the background.
  • That Man Is Dead: Zeltrax about Smitty
  • They Would Cut You Up: Before the kids learn just who Tommy is, this is the reason Ethan gives to Kira for keeping the gems a secret. Guys with super-powers often end up in labs with wires sticking out of their heads. Conner adds that even he knows that one.
  • This Is a Drill: The Thundersaurus Megazord's Dino Drill
    • The Ankylozord provides a second by replacing the right arm.
  • Those Two Guys: Cassidy and Devin, in a sort of Expy-based Shout-Out to Those Two Guys from the original series, Bulk and Skull.
  • Throw It In: According to this interview, the scene in the teamup with Ninja Storm, with Rangers from both teams racing toward the battlefield, turned at some point into an actual race between the actors of each season.
  • Triang Relations: Kinda Subtext-y, but Zeltrax has a thing for Elsa, who has a thing for Tommy, sometimes. And Elsa later has a thing with Mercer.
    • And a disturbing version of that subtext with Elsa/Mesogog. From the first episode.
  • TV Genius: Ethan.
  • Two-Teacher School: More like two teacher city. When one of the teachers was incapacitated, they had to hire a local millionaire scientist to teach his science class, rather than an, I dunno, substitute teacher or something.
    • Well, a lot of that was probably Randall's doing in favoring Mesogog's alter ego, but the point does still stand. Perhaps Anton was doing it on a discount For Science!.
  • What Could Have Been: According to Catherine Sutherland, who played Kat Hillard, the Pink Ranger from the end of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to the first half of Power Rangers Turbo, they were going to bring her back, but couldn't because of cost. Presumably, she would have been Tommy's wife.
    • According to some sources, Zeltrax's real identity was supposed to be Billy Cranston. Yes, THAT Billy. But they couldn't get David Yost to return, so they made up a new character and played Remember the New Guy? with him.
      • Other sources take the above a step further by saying that Billy wasn't even the first choice the creators wanted to be Zeltrax's real identity. Wanna know who their first choice was? Jason. Arguably, this choice would have been the one with the most impact. Considering how close Tommy and Jason were in previous seasons.
  • Widget Series: When Hayley gets a satellite TV installed in the cafe, what is the first thing the three Rangers watch? Abaranger
  • Word of God: The Zeo Christmas Episode showed Tommy and Katherine would be married in the future, but her not appearing in this season prompted fans to question that outcome (not that there hadn't been questioning for years prior to that, of course). When asked about this, though, Doug Sloan stated that Tommy and Kat getting married was still in-continuity.
  • World of Cardboard Speech: In "Fighting Spirit", Tommy underwent a dream sequence where he had to fight prior Ranger incarnations of himself. It was apparently a lesson that his true power was never with the Power Coins, Zeo Crystal or even the Dino Gems, but it was his will to survive. Of course, being Power Rangers, this metaphorical power allowed him to unlock his Super Dino Mode.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Jason David Frank couldn't be on set for the full season, so they worked around it by first "fossilizing" Dr. O in amber (at the end of "White Thunder, pt. 3"), then keeping him stuck in his Ranger suit (at the end of "Leader of the Whack", for 10 episodes), then turning him invisible (in "Disappearing Act") - for a total of 13 episodes (he came back in "Fighting Spirit").
  • You! Get Me Coffee!: The Funky Fisherman
  • You Look Familiar: Katrina Devine, who was Marah in Ninja Storm and Cassidy in Dino Thunder. Lampshaded in the crossover:

Both: That girl was so stunning! But I am so much prettier!

    • James Napier as Conner in Dino Thunder and wannabe ninja Eric in the finale of Ninja Storm. Lampshaded in "Legacy of Power", when Conner is the one who initially brings up Ninja Storm, and explains that he has a twin brother who briefly enrolled at the Wind Ninja Academy before dropping out. Strangely, the Ninja Rangers don't spot the resemblance.
  • Your Size May Vary: The Brachiozord.
  1. Yes, he's only the fifth team member. The actual number doesn't matter to the trope.