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|Series||Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers
Power Rangers Zeo
|Title(s)||Blue Power Ranger
Blue Ninja Ranger
|First appearance||Day of the Dumpster (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)|
|Last appearance||Rangers of Two Worlds, Part 2 (Power Rangers Zeo)|
|Portrayed by||David Yost
Justin Timsit (child)
RJ Cyler (2017 reboot)
William "Billy" Cranston is a fictional character in the Power Rangers universe. He is the Blue Ranger in the series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and was portrayed by actor David Yost. Billy is the only original Power Ranger to remain for the entire MMPR series, and is the second longest-serving Ranger overall behind Tommy Oliver. Until his departure, he was considered the brains of the Power Rangers team, creating many gadgets with which to solve problems that not even Zordon foresaw, and he even invented the first team's wrist-worn communication devices.
In 2013, it was revealed that Billy's last name came from actor Bryan Cranston, known for his roles on Malcolm In The Middle and Breaking Bad, who had voiced several monsters on the show earlier in his career.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Billy was one of the five "teenagers with attitude" selected by Zordon to become the original Power Rangers, along with Jason Lee Scott, Zack Taylor, Trini Kwan and Kimberly Hart. Billy became the Blue Power Ranger and was given both the Triceratops Power Coin and the Triceratops Dinozord.
Billy began the series as the stereotypical "nerd." The other Rangers, especially Trini, defended him loyally, but Billy later evolved to become a stronger individual. He was one of the top members of Angel Grove High's science club and often helped its younger members with their experiments. One such example was with Willy, a young boy he helped to create a virtual reality simulator for a Science Fair. In the episode "High Five," Billy created not only the wrist communicators the Power Rangers used, but also the interface that allowed the devices a remote access to the Command Center's teleportation unit.
It was revealed that, due to an experience in his youth when he was bitten by a fish during an experiment involving whirlpools, Billy developed icthyophobia: fear of fish. This fear would affect him well into his teens, and Rita would use a spell to exacerbate this fear. When he is the last Ranger left able to contend with the Goo Fish monster, Billy overcomes the spell and then, after helping to free his friends and defeat the monster, completely overcomes the fear itself on a fishing trip with Ernie, the owner of the Youth Center.
Each of Billy's teammates have a unique skill to offer the team and, in Billy's case, it was his vast intelligence. He sought out to improve himself physically, and the audience would see him transition over time from the suspenders-wearing "brain" to a confident, hyper-intelligent athlete with appreciable fighting skills, thanks in great part to Trini's Uncle Howard. Jason and later Tommy helped graduate Billy to the red belt level in karate.
Billy's intelligence would help the Rangers save the world on many occasions. When the Command Center was damaged, Zordon lost and Alpha incapacitated, it was his invention, a car called the RADBUG, that allowed the Rangers to travel to the Command Center. He performed a wide array of tasks, ranging from creating the method for which the Rangers would use initially to infiltrate Rita's Dark Dimension, to disarming the lock-out mechanism for Alpha's activated self-destruct, and many other achievements. Though Billy did manage to attract girls earlier in his "nerd-like" persona, it was after he began his journey toward self-improvement that he would garner more attention from romantic interests, even more so than the other members of the team.
Billy is accepted into the Young Scientists of America program. In Season 2, he befriends Zack's cousin Curtis when he becomes the newest student at Angel Grove High. Curtis's musical interests, particularly in playing the trumpet, sparks Billy's interest into the rhythmic patterns of jazz music.
Later in Season 2, a time-traveling Kimberly would recruit Billy's ancestor, also named William Cranston, in the 1880s to become the first Blue Ranger when she assembled and took command of the Wild West Ranger team in a battle against Goldar and several other time traveling foes.
In season 3, Billy gained new powers from Ninjor, who gave him the Wolf Power Coin, and became the Blue Ninja Ranger.
Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers
The Rangers are de-aged by a time reversal spell performed by Rita Repulsa's father, Master Vile. Billy devised a plan to restore the Rangers's ages using a machine that ran off the power coins. Billy restored himself, but Goldar stole the machine, and Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa destroyed all six Ninja Power Coins. With his Wolf Ninja Coin destroyed and his Triceratops Power Coin damaged beyond use, Billy's role changed. He no longer fought as a Power Ranger, but rather acted solely in an advisory and supporting role. Indeed, Billy was the only Ranger in this period still to be acted out by his regular actor - the others had been replaced temporarily by child actors after Master Vile had used the Orb of Doom to revert time by approximately ten years. Billy acted in this period as a liaison between the Aquitian Rangers and Earth. It was the cure for Billy's reverse-aging that eventually served as the plot device by which he was removed from the show. When Power Rangers Zeo began, Billy officially retired from active Ranger service, allowing Tanya to take his place while he continued his support role by creating and maintaining most of the weaponry, gadgets and Zords the Zeo Rangers would use.
Power Rangers Zeo
The writers left the choice open as to whether or not Billy would become a Zeo Ranger, with him musing at the start of Zeo that he could always assume the Zeo power in an emergency. He graduated earlier than the rest of the team in "Graduation Blues," and then left Earth for a brief period to address problems on the planet Aquitar. In "Mr. Billy's Wild Ride," he returns to Earth, although he is attacked by hostile forces along the way.
Before the Gold Ranger's identity was revealed as Trey of Triforia, the writers left several red herrings to mislead the viewers into believing that the Gold Ranger was Billy since he was never around when the Gold Ranger was around. When Trey of Triforia returned to Triforia on sabbatical to try to unify his three selves, Billy was selected to assume the Gold Ranger's powers. However, the negative proton energy that his body had absorbed in the Command Center's explosion prevented him from taking the powers. Instead Jason Lee Scott, the former Red Ranger, received the powers.
Billy was last seen in one of the final Zeo episodes suffering from accelerated aging because the regenerator he used to restore his proper age had a side effect. To counter this, he traveled to Aquitar for a cure from their Eternal Falls (analogous to the Fountain of Youth), which restore his real age; after that he opted to remain there with Cestria, a female Aquitian with whom he had fallen in love.
The Phantom Ranger
In Power Rangers Turbo, the fifth season of the series (and later in few episodes of Power Rangers in Space), a mysterious Power Ranger with the ability to become invisible show up and became an ally for the Turbo Rangers who nickname him Phantom Ranger. His identity was never revealed, but executive producer of Turbo and Space, Judd Lynn revealed that if he had to give the character an origin now, he would have made him a past Ranger and fixed on Billy as a potential, but stressed that this was only a brainstorm after the fact.
Behind the scenes
David Yost has stated he had walked off the show a few episodes prior to his character's departure, due to repeated and ongoing homophobic slurs by the creators, producers, directors, and writers of the series, hence his lack of appearance in them. However, producer Scott Page-Pagter has denied these allegations, claiming Yost left over a salary dispute and had conflicts with members of the crew. As a result, stock footage of Yost was used for his departure and the character was voiced by someone else. (In broadcasting Billy's departing message to his friends, it was mentioned they were having trouble with the signal.) He was also the last of the original Power Ranger team to leave the show, although his former teammate Jason had returned as the Gold Ranger at that time.
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