Artwork by Matt Plotecher and Julie Bihn
Many Rescue Ranger fans like the show primarily because of the characters. This sounds like a vague reason, but what these fans most likely mean is that the characters are well-characterized. Indeed, all the characters have easily-describable personalties which makes them easy to grasp, yet, they can be analyzed as well.
Chip has a very driven personality; some Rangerphiles believe he is trying to make up for some kind of past failure. He often bonks Dale on the head in slapstick comedy fashion; this is often seen as a sign of affection, instead of him getting fed up with Dale's stupidity. Most Rangerphiles (but not all) also think Chip is an ideal mate for Gadget, although, in the series, he and Dale generally vie for her affections on a fairly equal basis (with some exceptions). Fan fiction usually brings out either a motivation behind Chip's occasionally harsh attitude towards others, or, more often, simply ignores his bursts of anger, making him a more gentle character than he was in the series. Some fans assign him a last name, usually Maplewood.
Dale is occasionally thought to be smarter than he looks and acts. In fan fiction, he may come off as smarter than he was on the show, or, conversely, sometimes he is shown as rather stupid. Perhaps the most noticable trait ascribed to Dale in fan fiction is his love of Foxglove--in no story that I know of does he not either love her, or grow to love her. Though the data shows that there is not universal support for a relationship between Foxglove and Dale, there has been no great debate over it in the Acorn Cafe (as there has been with Gadget and Chip's potential relationship). Most Rangerphiles seem to take it for granted that the two will become a couple. Dale's fan-assigned last name is usually Oakmont.
Monterey Jack and Zipper have generally been ignored in speculations, although some people do wonder why Zipper, as a fly, only has two arms and two legs. (Some fans suggested that he underwent a tragic accident, ripping the other limbs off!) Monterey Jack's past is fairly well-defined; both of his parents appeared in the series, and it is known that he left home at some age to explore the world through ships. Since he is not a popular character, not much speculation has occurred, although there have been attempts to write fanfics about Monterey's past.
Gadget is indisputably the most popular character of the show. She is widely considered to have had a tragic past, since she 'lost her father' (To the Rescue part 3). However, there is currently a bit of backlash against this 'tragic past' assumption. She is debatably the only other character to be assigned a last name, since her father's name was Geegaw Hackwrench--though she was never called Gadget Hackwrench in the show, several pages have the name 'Gadget Hackwrench' in their titles, and that is universally accepted as her last name. Gadget is given a wide range of personalities in fan fiction; some authors portray her naivety towards Chip and Dale's affections as a mask, and most leave out her absent-mindedness, or at least downplay it. (It has been argued that she grew less absent-minded as the show progressed, although few episodes need to go in any particular order.) At least two fan fictions I can think of wind up putting Gadget in a dress and playing the role of social butterfly at a wedding, with Gadget not minding in the least. Gadget's personality sometimes evolves in most fan fictions, although some are probably just out of character.
While many fans like the Rangers as a team, most also have favorites.
Here are some statistics about which Internet Rangerphiles' favorite Rangers (sources: Internet Survey; Seidman 1990):
|Favorite Ranger||Internet Survey||Rescue Ranger Comics Poll|
|All of them||3/42 (7%)||---|
|Other (more than one listed)||4/42 (9%)||---|
(In the Internet survey, one person voted for Foxglove, a female bat who only appeared in one episode, and Dale as his favorite Rangers.)
Gadget is the most popular character throughout; the fact that she is more popular on the Internet may be partially explained by the fact that she is an inventor, somewhat of a 'braniac,' and therefore probably admired by many people who are more likely to spend a lot of time online. Dale is much more popular in the comics poll than he is in the Internet survey; this could be due to the attitudes of people on the Internet, or perhaps younger fans are more likely to idolize Dale, while older fans in positions of responsibility prefer Chip.
I suspected that Gadget would have a lot of female fans; however, the statistics indicate otherwise. This graph shows the percentages of female and male Rangerphiles, respectively, who like each character:
|Favorite Ranger (by gender of respondents)||Female||Male|
|Chip||5/12 (42%)||6/30 (20%)|
|Gadget||4/12 (33%)||17/30 (57%)|
|Monty||1/12 (8%)||1/30 (3%)|
|Dale||0/12 (0%)||3/30 (10%)|
|Zipper||0/12 (0%)||0/12 (0%)|
|All of them||2/12 (17%)||1/30 (3%)|
|Other (more than one listed)||0/12 (0%)||2/30 (7%)|
Chip is the most popular Ranger among female Rangerphiles according to this survey, although some female Rangerphiles cited Gadget as a role model. Several female Rangerphiles think Chip is cute, so I suspect that is one of the reasons he is popular among female Rangerphiles, just as one of the reasons male Rangerphiles like Gadget is because she is attractive. Certainly personality must be at work, too; several Rangerphiles claim to be the type to take responsibility, a trait also present in Chip.
The topic of specific favorite characters bears more analysis.
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