Bryan Cranston has been attached to the Power Rangers franchise for several decades, putting a spotlight on the very clear similarity between the original Blue Ranger’s name, Billy Cranston, and the Breaking Bad actor’s name. Billy Cranston was introduced to audiences as the Blue Power Ranger in the original 1993 series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Billy was the brains of the group, often outsmarting their nemeses with his own intelligence. The character later appeared in other Power Rangers series such as Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers and Power Rangers Zeo.
Billy Cranston also returned as a character in the 2017 film Power Rangers. For the most part, Cranston was played by David Yost, but he later passed the torch to RJ Cyler in 2017. The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in 1993 actually included both Bryan Cranston and Billy Cranston side by side, although one was a real actor and the other a fictional character. Due to Bryan Cranston’s association with the Power Rangers franchise, however, suspicions grow over the origin of the Blue Ranger’s name.
Many Believe Power Rangers’ Billy Was Named After Bryan Cranston
Because of the closeness of their names, many believe that Bryan Cranston directly inspired Billy Cranston’s name in Power Rangers. It would make sense that, because of Bryan Cranston’s early connections to the Power Rangers franchise, perhaps producers borrowed Cranston’s last name and first initial for one of their main characters. This would be an especially interesting link because of how integral Billy Cranston’s character is to the franchise and the longevity of his legacy. Although this is just a theory, many believe this idea of Bryan Cranston inspiring Power Rangers creator Haim Saban to be completely true.
This theory, though fun, does raise some questions. For example, writers would surely not use Cranston’s name when the actor was not part of the six Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Also, Cranston would need to have a very close relationship with the Power Rangers creators to merit the use of his name. The biggest issue with this theory, however, arises when looking at the timeline of Billy Cranston’s name and Bryan Cranston’s inclusion in the franchise.
Power Rangers’ Billy Name May Be A Strange Coincidence
Looking into the origins of Billy Cranston in the original Power Rangers TV show, it seems more likely that his name was a coincidence, rather than a direct nod to Bryan Cranston. The name “Billy Cranston” actually appeared before Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Billy Cranston was first written into a Haim Saban television pilot entitled Bio-Man in 1986. The pilot, an adaptation of the Japanese series Choudenshi Bioman, ultimately failed, but led to the production of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in 1993 and Cranston’s name followed from one series to the next. This information negates Bryan Cranston’s work on Power Rangers as a factor in Billy Cranston’s name.
Because Billy Cranston’s name originated long before Bryan Cranston’s association with Power Rangers, it is probably not the case that Bryan Cranston inspired Billy Cranston’s name. The connection between Billy Cranston and Bryan Cranston in Power Rangers is much more likely to be a strange coincidence, whereby writers chose the name and later hired future Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston on the show. Despite the inspiration theory falling flat, the connection is still a fun and unique coincidence within the Power Rangers franchise.
How Bryan Cranston Is Connected To The Power Rangers Franchise
Bryan Cranston became the voice actor for various villains in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, including Snizzard and Twin Man, which represents his first connection with the Power Rangers franchise. Cranston worked with Power Rangers creator Haim Saban from the very start of the franchise, performing English dubs for older characters and villains. Cranston was part of the Power Rangers franchise for some time, working on cartoon series, live-action content, and films imported from overseas. He then took a break from Power Rangers when his career began to take off, but did return in the 2017 reboot to play the Power Rangers‘ bodiless mentor, Zordon.
Although Bryan Cranston probably did not inspire Billy Cranston’s name, he still played a major role in the Power Rangers franchise and his impact still lingers today. Cranston’s passion for the series shows in his willingness to come back in later Power Rangers content like the 2017 movie. Now a much bigger star thanks to Breaking Bad, the actor might even appear in Netflix’s upcoming Power Rangers reunion special. This dedication to the franchise could also potentially lead to the inspiration name theory coming true. Perhaps Power Rangers will create a future character who really is inspired by Bryan Cranston.
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