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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Clockwise from top: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT or Ninja Turtles) are a team of four teenage anthropomorphic turtles, who are trained by their sensei, Master Splinter, to become skilled ninja warriors. From their home in the sewers of Manhattan, they battle petty criminals, evil megalomaniacs, and alien invaders, all while remaining isolated from society at large.

The TMNT originated in an American comic book published by Mirage Studios in 1984. The concept arose from a comical sketch by Kevin Eastman during a casual evening of brainstorming with his friend Peter Laird. Using money from a tax refund together with a loan from Eastman's uncle, the young artists self-published a single-issue comic intended to parody four of the most popular comics of the early 1980s: Marvel Comics' X-Men/The New Mutants, which featured teenage mutants, Daredevil, which featured ninja clans dueling for control of the New York City underworld, Cerebus, which featured anthropomorphic animals and Ronin.

Much of the Turtles' mainstream success is owed to Mark Freedman, a licensing agent who sought out Eastman and Laird to propose wider merchandising opportunities for the offbeat property. In January 1987, they visited the offices of Playmates Toys, a small California toy company who wished to expand into the action figure market. Accompanied by the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, the TMNT were soon catapulted into pop culture history. At the height of the frenzy, the Turtles' likenesses could be found on a wide range of children's merchandise, from PEZ dispensers to skateboards, breakfast cereal, and school supplies. By 1995, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise had earned $6 billion in revenues.[1]

Today, there is a resurgence in the Turtles' popularity with the success of the recent animated series, a new line of Playmates action figures, Konami video games, and a computer-animated feature film that came out in 2007.

History

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles originated in an American comic book published by Mirage Studios in 1984 in New Hampshire. The concept arose from a humorous drawing sketched out by Kevin Eastman during a casual evening of brainstorming with his friend Peter Laird.[2] Using money from a tax refund together with a loan from Eastman's uncle, the young artists self-published a single issue comic intended to parody four of the most popular comics of the early 1980s: Marvel Comics' Daredevil and New Mutants, Dave Sim's Cerebus, and Frank Miller's Ronin.[3]

Much of the Turtles' mainstream success began when a licensing agent, Mark Freedman, sought out Eastman and Laird to propose wider merchandising opportunities for the offbeat property. In 1986, Dark Horse Miniatures produced a set of 15 mm lead figurines. In January 1988, they visited the offices of Playmates Toys Inc, a small California toy company who wished to expand into the action figure market. Development initiated with a creative team of companies and individuals: Jerry Sachs, ad man of Sachs-Finley Agency, brought together the animators at Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, headed by award-winning animator Fred Wolf. Wolf and his team combined concepts and ideas with Playmates marketing crew, headed by Karl Aaronian and then VP of Sales, Richard Sallis and VP of Playmates, Bill Carlson. Aaronian brought on several designers and concepteer and writer John Schulte and worked out the simple backstory that would live on toy packaging for the entire run of the product and show. Sachs called the high-concept pitch "Green Against Brick". The sense of humor was honed with the collaboration of MWS's writers. Playmates and their team essentially served as associate producers and contributing writers to the miniseries that was first launched to sell-in the toy action figures. Phrases like "Heroes in a Half Shell" and many of the comical catch phrases and battle slogans ("Turtle Power!") came from the writing and conceptualization of this creative team. As the series developed, veteran writer Jack Mendelsohn came on board as both a story editor and scriptwriter. David Wise, Michael Charles Hill, and Michael Reaves wrote most of the scripts, taking input via Mendelsohn and collaborating writer Schulte and marketing maven Aaronian.

The miniseries was repeated three times before it found an audience. Once the product started selling, the show got syndicated and picked up and backed by Group W, which funded the next round of animation. The show then went network, on CBS. Accompanied by the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 TV series, and the subsequent action figure line, the TMNT were soon catapulted into pop culture history. At the height of the frenzy, in the early 1990s, the Turtles' likenesses could be found on a wide range of children's merchandise, from Pez dispensers to skateboards, breakfast cereal, video games, school supplies, linens, towels, cameras, and even toy shaving kits. The TV series would eventually reach it's end, only to be replaced by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 TV series a few years later, which would prove to become extremely popular, reaching an even broader fanbase than the previous series.

On October 21, 2009, it was announced that cable channel Nickelodeon (a subsidiary of Viacom) had purchased all of Mirage's rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property. Mirage retains the rights to publish 18 issues a year, though the future involvement of Mirage with the Turtles and the future of Mirage Studios itself is unknown.[4] Nickelodeon has developed a new CGI-animated TMNT television series and partnered with fellow Viacom company Paramount Pictures to bring a new TMNT movie to theaters. The TV show premiered on Nickelodeon on September 29, 2012.[5] The live action film, produced by Platinum Dunes, Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures, directed by Jonathan Liebesman and produced by Michael Bay, was released on August 8, 2014.[6]

Main characters

  • Leonardo (Leo) - The de facto leader of the Turtles, Leonardo is courageous, decisive, and a disciplined student of martial arts. As a strict adherent to Bushido, he has a very strong sense of honor and justice. He wears a blue mask (red in the mirage/image comics) and wields a pair of katana. He is the oldest of the four. He is named after Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Raphael (Raph) - The team's "bad boy", Raphael has an aggressive nature and seldom hesitates to throw the first punch. He is also an intense fighter. His personality can be alternately fierce, sarcastic, and full of angst, and oftentimes delivers deadpan humor. Still, he is good-hearted, willing to protect others and is intensely loyal to his brothers and sensei. Raphael is good friends with Casey Jones. He wears a red mask and wields a pair of sai. He is named after Raphael Sanzio.
  • Donatello (Don, Donny, or Donnie) - The inventor, and technology geek, Donatello has a reputation as something of a smart aleck. He is perhaps the least violent Turtle, preferring to use his intellect to solve conflicts. He wears a purple mask (red in the mirage/image comics) and wields the bo staff. He is named after Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi.
  • Michelangelo (Mike or Mikey) - The easy-going and free-spirited Michelangelo provides much of the comic relief. While he loves to read comics and eat pizza, this Turtle also has an adventurous side. He wears an orange mask (red in the mirage/image comics) and wields a pair of nunchaku. He is named after Michelangelo Buonarroti.
  • Splinter - The Turtles' sensei and adoptive father, Splinter is a mutant rat who learned the ways of ninjutsu from his own master, Hamato Yoshi. In the 1987 TV series and Archie Comics series, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi mutated into a rat instead of being just Yoshi's pet. In the IDW comics, he is Hamato Yoshi reincarnated as a mutated rat. Splinter's name is a parody of Stick, the man who mentored Daredevil.
  • April O'Neil - A former lab assistant to the brilliant scientist Baxter Stockman, April is the plucky human companion of the Turtles. She embarks on many of the Turtles' adventures and aids them by doing the work that the Turtles themselves cannot do in public. During the early height of TMNT cartoon popularity, April was famously depicted as a television news reporter.
  • Casey Jones - A vigilante who has become one of the Turtles' closest allies as well as a love interest to April, Casey fights crime with an assortment of sporting goods (baseball bats, golf clubs, hockey sticks, etc.) while wearing a goalie mask to protect his identity. In the Mirage comics and Turtles Forever he is married to April.
  • Shredder - A villainous ninja master named Oroku Saki who, along with his evil Foot Clan, is the arch-enemy of Splinter and the Turtles. Shredder wears a fearsome suit of armor covered with sharp blades.
  • Karai – A female high-rank member of the Foot Clan who has appeared in several different TMNT comics, cartoons and films, as well as in multiple video games. In some incarnations of the character, she is closely related to the Shredder as his adopted daughter or biological granddaughter. In most works, she shares an ambiguous rivalry (occasionally even bordering on romantic interest) with Leonardo.

Powers and abilities

Each turtle posses enhanced mutant strength, thanks to the mutagen that mutated them. This explains why they are able to fight and overpower beings ten times their own size, such as being able to knock out Tricertons with simple jump kicks, as well as various other monsters, aliens, and giant creatures. It's obvious that the Turtles aren't on any human level. Each of them are on an almost superhuman level.

The 15 years of intense ninja training combined with their mutant powers makes each of them even stronger, faster, and much more skilled than normal humans. And as the years go by, they become more and more skilled in all forms of martial arts. In the episode, "Turtle Trek", Leonardo destroyed an alien tank by running around it at lightning-quick speed while slashing phenomenally quick at it, then as he stopped running, the tank shattered to pieces.

In the episode, "Enter The Shredder", the Turtles were able to smash through an army of giant mechanical robots using nothing but their weapons and their bodies. In the episode, "Turtle Trek", they defeated an entire invasion fleet of nearly-indestructible Rock Warriors through brute force.

Each of the Turtles have also shown to be outstanding warriors on their own.

Leonardo was able to battle entire armies of ninjas all at once, and win. He is usually the one who defeats the Shredder, and various other very powerful beings. Such as Tempestra, (a being with elemental powers), the Ultimate Ninja, Hun, etc. He, at one point, even destroyed an embodiment of the devil (from the episode; The Darkness Within. Leonardo, in a fit of uncontrollable rage, fought and injured his own master Splinter at one point, proving that he'd surpassed his own master. (The episode; The Ancient One)

Michelangelo has won the Battle-Nexus Tournament (A dimensional arena where beings from across all the known universes come to duel to determine the most skilled and powerful warrior ever), can easily beat Raphael, and is the most agile and athletic of the four Turtles.

Donatello is the least violent turtle, often trying to solve issues without needing to resort to fighting. However, despite the fact that Donatello spends more time in his lab than he does training, he can surprisingly keep up with the other Turtles in terms of skill and power with little effort. In fact, in the classic series, he may just be the most skilled of the four. (In the episode, "Too Hot To Handle", he was able to defeat his fellow turtles in a training duel. However, it was just training so it's likely the others weren't fighting with the same intensity they fight with in an actual battle). He has saved the world on his own a lot of times, and can outsmart even the most intelligent beings (he has out smarted an evil duplicate of himself, who literally had ten times his own intelligence), and has also outsmarted various other super intelligent beings such as, Slash, Krang, Lord Dregg, etc.

Raphael is perhaps the most powerful and strongest, and definitely one of the quickest. Like the others, he can fight entire hordes and armies of ninjas by himself, and win. He's the most durable turtle, being able to take hits from the Shredder himself and still fight back, has been repedeatly smashed by Tripple Threat and still get back up, has been shot by lightning from the Sword Of Tengu and could still fight, and even had his entire body sliced into a bloody mess, and his own eye ripped apart, but he was still able to fight back with no less might (this was in the episode, "Same As It Never Was",). He can be just as deadly and powerful as any of the other Turtles, and can throw some serious punches. He's also shown the ability to defeat Leonardo.

Aside from their incredible skills and mutant strength, each Turtle also has a super mutant form that can be triggered when they each feel stressed enough. (this was only in seasons 9-10 of the classic series, though). They basically grow into giant hulks with shells. In this form, their strength and power increases a hundredfold. (being able to survive building explosions without a scratch, able to withstand devastating blasts, etc.). In the episode, "Return Of Dregg", Leonardo, in his mutant form, threw a giant 200 ton robot into space, showing just how powerful his mutant form is.

In the episode, "Cyber Turtles, each of the Turtles "borrowed" four extremely powerful cyber suits from the war like Glaxxons, which could transform each of them into giant, invincible super cyborgs with incredible fire power. The only thing capable of destroying a cyber suit would be another who posses a cyber suit, or a laser powered by the FireStar; a crystal with the power of a thousand suns. However, this was only used once, and it was never revealed if the Turtles ever returned the cyber suits to the Glaxxons after defeating them.

In Season 5 of the 2003 series, (also known as "The Lost Episodes" and "The Ninja Tribunal Season"), the Turtles were granted four magical amulets which gave each of them incredible mystic powers. (super speed, super strength, teleportation, etc.). It was also revealed that when focused hard enough, each of the Turtles could transform into giant mystical dragons, which increases their powers a thousandfold. In this form, each of them are on a near "god-like" level.

Each of the Turtles are extremely durable and can take some serious damage. They've survived explosions, buildings being dropped on them, being stabbed, superpowered punches, lightning bolts, laser shots, and even an intense cosmic blast from the Starchild (this was from the episode: The Starchild of Season 7 in the classic series).

However, their main power is their family bonded team work and cunning. The team work of the TMNT is unmatched, and when working together, there is nothing they cannot solve. Though it's mostly Donatello who comes up with the ideas and answers, it's Leonardo who plans out their next move, with help from Raphael and Michelangelo. It's almost as if the Turtles all think as one, for they almost always combine their skills to great effect, making use of their strengths and making strategies, even in the midst of battle, to make up for their weaknesses.

Comic books

Mirage Studios

01cover

The cover of TMNT #1 is a parody of Frank Miller's Ronin

The first issue of Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles premiered in May, 1984, at a comic book convention held at a local Sheraton Hotel in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was published by Mirage Studios in an oversized magazine-style format using black & white artwork on cheap newsprint, limited to a print run of only 3,000 copies. The small print runs made these early comics instant collector items, and within months they were trading for over fifty times their cover price. The name "Mirage Studios" was chosen because of Eastman and Laird's lack of a professional art studio at the start of their career, before their creation made them both multi-millionaires.

Mirage also published a bi-monthly companion book entitled Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, featuring art by Ryan Brown and Jim Lawson, which was designed to fill in the gaps of continuity in the TMNT universe. The title ran from 1987–1989, released in alternating months with the regular Eastman & Laird book.

As the TMNT phenomenon proliferated to other media, Eastman and Laird would find themselves administrating an international merchandising juggernaut. Unfortunately, this prevented the two creators from participating in the day-to-day work of writing and illustrating a monthly comic book. For this reason, many guest artists were invited to showcase their unique talents in the TMNT universe. The breadth of diversity found in the various short stories gave the series a disjointed, anthology-like feel. Fans stuck with the series, and what was originally intended as a one-shot parody became a continuing series that lasted for 76 issues spanning two separate volumes.

In June, 1996, Image Comics revived the title as a more action-oriented TMNT series. Although notable for inflicting major physical changes on the main characters, the events of Volume 3 have been dropped from continuity. Mirage Studios resumed publication of a fourth volume in December, 2001, under the simple title TMNT. After the publication of issue #28, writer Peter Laird put the series on an eight month hiatus to allow him more time to devote to the upcoming movie.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures was a comic book series published from August 1988 to October 1995 by Archie Comics. The initial storylines were close adaptations of the 1987 TV series, but with the fifth issue Eastman and Laird decided to hand the book over to Mirage Studios employees Ryan Brown and Stephen Murphy who immediately abandoned the animated series adaptations and took the title in a decidedly different direction with all-new original adventures, including the uniting of several of the series' recurring characters as a separate team, the Mighty Mutanimals.

Dreamwave Productions

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Dreamwave comic was a monthly comic inspired by the 2003 animated series was published by Dreamwave Productions from June to December 2003. It was written by Peter David and illustrated by LeSean Thomas. In the first four issues, which were the only ones directly adapted from the TV series, the story was told from the perspectives of April, Baxter, Casey, and a pair of NYC cops, instead of the Turtles.

IDW

In April 2011, IDW Publishing announced that they had acquired the license to publish new collections of Mirage storylines and a new ongoing series.[7] The first issue of the new series was released on August 24, 2011. Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz write, with Eastman and Dan Duncan handling art chores.

New Animated Adventures

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures is a comic series by IDW Publishing based on the Nickelodeon animated series.

Manga

The Turtles have appeared in many manga series: Mutant Turtles (ミュータント・タートルズ) was a 15-issue series by Tsutomu Oyamada, Tadashi Makimura, and Yoshimi Hamada that simply adapted episodes of the original American animated series. Super Turtles (スーパータートルズ) was a 3-issue mini-series by Hidemasa Idemitsu, Tetsurō Kawade, and Toshio Kudō that featured the "TMNT Supermutants" Turtle toys that were on sale at the time. The first volume of the anime followed this storyline. Next was Mutant Turtles Gaiden (ミュータント・タートルズ外伝) by Hiroshi Kanno, which was a re-interpretation of the Turtles story with no connection to the previous manga. Also of note was Mutant Turtles III, an adaptation of the third feature film by Yasuhiko Hachino.

Daily comic strip

A daily comic strip written and illustrated by Dan Berger, was published in syndication until its cancellation in December, 1996. At its highest point in popularity, it was published in over 250 newspapers.

Television series

First animated series (1987–1996)

TMNT1987Series

The 1987 animated series.

When little known Playmates Toys Inc. was approached about producing a TMNT action figure line, they were cautious of the risk and requested that a television deal be acquired first.[8][9] On 10 December, 1987, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' first cartoon series began, starting as a 5-part miniseries and becoming a regular Saturday morning syndicated series on 1 October, 1988 with 13 more episodes. The series was produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson Film Productions Inc. Mirage Studios does not own the rights to this cartoon series, so changes made in the 1987 version of the TMNT have not translated to other versions. Here, the Ninja Turtles are portrayed as four wise-cracking, pizza-obsessed superheroes who fight the forces of evil from their sewer hideout. The cast included new and different characters like Bebop and Rocksteady and the Neutrinos. Original characters like Shredder and the Foot Soldiers stayed true to the comics in appearance and alignment only. Krang, one of the series' most memorable villains, was inspired by the design of the Utrom, a benevolent alien race from the Mirage comics. The animated Krang, however, was instead an evil warlord from Dimension X. Baxter Stockman, whose race was inexplicably changed from Black to White, was rewritten as a shy and meek lackey to Shredder, later mutating into an anthropomorphic housefly. This version of the Turtles also gave the Shredder the immense battle fortress, the Technodrome.

Starting on 4 September, 1989, the series was expanded to weekdays and had 65 more episodes for the new season. On 10 September, 1990, the series (with a different end credits background) continued with 13 more syndicated episodes. 15 "Lost" syndicated episodes were produced in Season 4, but aired in 1993 and 1991, most likely because of animation or schedule problems. Many fans refer to these episodes as the "European Vacation episodes" and the "Awesome Easter episodes". In the fall of 1990 (with a different opening sequence) began its run on CBS. The CBS weekend edition presented a full hour of Turtle Power, initially airing a couple of Saturday exclusive episodes back to back.

On 10 September, 1994, (with a different theme song, opening sequence, and end credits background) the series continued with one episode per week but big changes were made to the series. Starting with the 1994 season, the format of the series was changed to a more action-orientied show, removing many character building scenes and the cartoon feel of the series. The opening sequence was completely changed to one where clips of the 1994 Season were used instead of animation specifically for the intro. The theme song was changed to a techno beat and scenes from the 1990 live action movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were intercut with new scenes from the 1994 Season. The sky was changed from a blue sky to a red sky with gray clouds to give the show a darker tone, similar to what was done with the original Spider-Man animated series in seasons 2 and 3. A new villain, Lord Dregg, an evil alien warlord, appeared as their new chief nemesis for the final two seasons. The series ran until 2 November, 1996. CBS canceled the original TMNT cartoon due to FCC regulations stipulating that Saturday morning programming must contain educational material. Its enormous popularity gave rise to numerous imitators, including the Battletoads, Cheetahmen, Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa, Stone Protectors, Extreme Dinosaurs, Street Sharks, and Biker Mice from Mars. Currently, the first 54 episodes are available on DVD.

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (1997–1998)

In 1997-1998, the Turtles starred in a live-action television series called Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation that directly follows the events of the first three movies. A fifth turtle was introduced, a female named "Venus de Milo" who was skilled in the mystical arts of the shinobi. Shredder is defeated in the first couple episodes and the Ninja Turtles encountered new villains. The series was intended as a a loose continuation of the movie franchise. Connections to the feature films include the fact that Splinter's ear was cut, the Foot Soldiers were humans, and the Turtles lived in the abandoned subway station seen in the second and third movies. The Next Mutation Turtles even made a guest appearance on Power Rangers: In Space, a live-action sentai show that was similar and popular at the time.[10][11]

However, The Next Mutation never caught on with fans, and it was canceled after one season of twenty-six episodes. Since its cancellation, the program has been considered apocryphal by the TMNT fanbase, and Laird and Eastman have disavowed all knowledge of the character Venus de Milo.


Second animated series (2003–2009)

2003tmntscreenshot

The 2003 animated series.

In 2003, a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series produced by 4Kids Entertainment began airing on the "FoxBox" (later renamed "4Kids TV") programming block. It later moved to "The CW4Kids" block. The series was co-produced by Mirage Studios,[12] and Mirage owned one-third of the rights to the series. Mirage's significant stake in creative control resulted in a cartoon that hews more closely to the original comics, creating a darker and edgier feel than the 1987 cartoon, but still remaining lighthearted enough to be considered appropriate for children.

This series lasted until 2009, ending with a feature-length television movie titled Turtles Forever, which was produced in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the TMNT franchise and featured the Turtles of the 2003 series teaming up with their counterparts from the 1987 series. 4Kidstv.com featured all the episodes of the series, up until September 2010.

Fast Forward

The show's fourth season left the "Ninja Tribunal" story arc with a cliffhanger finale. This storyline was left unresolved when, on 2006-07-29, the show began a radical new direction under the subtitle Fast Forward, and the Turtles find themselves time-traveling to New York City circa 2105. Peter Laird and other staff writers had been working on a fifth season for the 2003 animated series that would have resolved the "Ninja Tribunal" storyline, had the decision to produce Fast Forward not been made. The 13-episode "lost fifth season" had been released on DVD. The Lost Episodes began airing on the 4KidsTV on February 9, 2008. Fast Forward is considered the sixth season of the 2003 animated series, despite attempts by 4Kids TV (TM) to bill it as an entirely new series in both television promos and press releases.[13]

Back to the Sewer

Leo,Raph,Don, Mikey,April and Casey 1

The Turtles, April and Casey in BTTS

A follow up series where the Turtles return to the present. This series lasted until 2009, ending with a feature-length television movie titled Turtles Forever, which was produced in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the TMNT franchise and featured the Turtles of the 2003 series teaming up with their counterparts from the 1987 series.

Third animated series (2012–present)

Nickelodeon acquired the global rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the Mirage Group and 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. and announced a new CGI-animated TMNT television series.[14][15][16] The series premiered in 2012 and has proven to be a hit, as it was already renewed for a third season before season one ended. Season three premiered in October 2014 and the series has been renewed for a fourth season.

Anime series

Metal raphael toy

Metal Mutant Raphael

In addition to the American series, a Japanese exclusive two-episode anime OVA series was made in 1996, titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Legend of the Supermutants (ミュータント・タートルズ超人伝説偏 Mutant Turtles: Chōjin Densetsu Hen). The OVA is similar in tone to the 1987 TV series and uses the same voices from TV Tokyo's Japanese dub of the 1987 TV series. The first episode was made to advertise the TMNT Supermutants toys. It featured the Turtles as superheroes, who gained costumes and super powers with the use of "MutaStones", while Shredder, Bebop] and Rocksteady] gained super-villain powers with the use of "Dark MutaStones". As with the Super Sentai and Power Rangers franchises, the four Turtles can combine their powers to form the giant Turtle Saint. The second episode was created to advertise the Metal Mutants toys in which the characters gain Saint Seiya-esque mystical metal armor that can transform into beasts. The seven Japanese MutaStones encased in a magic mirror that control the Metal Beasts are based on the sun, moon, and the Five Elements.

Feature films

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie

The Turtles in the second film.

The first film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, closely follows the storyline from the Mirage comic books, in addition to some of the more lighthearted elements of the cartoons. This movie presents the origin story of Splinter and the Turtles, their initial encounters with April (Judith Hoag) and Casey (Elias Koteas), and their first confrontation with Shredder and his Foot Clan. Directed by Steve Barron and released by New Line Cinema, the film showcases the innovative puppetry techniques of Jim Henson's Creature Shop. It remains one of the highest grossing independent films of all time.[17]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

The second film, entitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, expands on the Turtles' origin story while claiming the distinction as Vanilla Ice's film debut. It also introduced the Turtles' human friend Keno (Ernie Reyes Jr.) and Shredder's mutant henchmen Tokka and Rahzar. The original story was to include Rocksteady and Bebop at the insistence of the studio, but Laird and Eastman fought tooth and nail to prevent their inclusion, settling on Tokka and Rahzar (Mark Ginther, actor, stuntman) as a compromise. The original ending to "Ooze" would also reveal the benevolent TGRI scientist, Professor Jordan Perry (David Warner), to have been an Utrom. But due to budget constraints, plus the fear he may be mistaken for the character Krang, the plot twist was abandoned.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)

The third film in the series was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, which featured Elias Koteas reprising his role as the character Casey Jones. The plot revolves around the "Sacred Sands of Time," a mystical scepter which transports the Turtles back in time to feudal Japan, where they become embroiled in a conflict between the daimyo and American traders.

TMNT (2007)

Leo,Raph,Don and Mikey 8

The Turtles as they appeared in TMNT

The Turtles' fourth feature film, entitled simply TMNT, was release on 23 March 2007 in theaters. Unlike the previous films, it utilizes 100% computer-generated imagery, produced by Imagi Animation Studios and distributed by The Weinstein Company and Warner Bros. Pictures. According to a press release, "the PG-rated movie will derive its tone from the original comic-book series and will be slightly grittier than the previous live-action pictures. The animation will be created in Imagi’s state-of-the-art facility in Hong Kong."[18] The teaser trailer was released July 20, 2006.[19]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

The live action film, produced by Platinum Dunes, Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures, directed by Jonathan Liebesman and produced by Michael Bay, was released on August 8, 2014.[6]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)

The sequel will be release on June 3, 2016 with Bay returing to produce the sequel and Dave Green will be directing.

Toys and merchandise

Merchandise

Among the first licensed products to feature the Ninja Turtles was a pen-and-paper RPG titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness, published by Palladium Books in 1985 and featuring original comics and illustrations by Eastman and Laird themselves. The game features a large list of animals, including pandas and sparrows, that are available as mutant player characters. There were several more titles in this genre, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, Truckin' Turtles, Turtles Go Hollywood, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Guide to the Universe, and Transdimensional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In 1986, Dark Horse Miniatures in Boise, Idaho produced an attendant set of lead figurines; unlike later incarnations the bandanas on the store's display set were painted all black before the multicolored versions were released to help younger readers distinguish between the four characters other than their weaponry. Palladium allowed the license to lapse in 2000, in part due to declining sales stemming from the "kiddification" of the animated and live-action incarnations to that point. However, Palladium's publisher, Kevin Siembieda, indicated in 2007 a potential willingness to revisit the license given the franchise's recent moves closer to its roots.[20]

Toys

During the run of the 1987 TV series, Playmates Toys produced hundreds of TMNT action figures, along with vehicles, playsets, and accessories, becoming one of the top collectibles for children.[21] Staff artists at Northampton, Massachusetts-based Mirage Studios provided conceptual designs for many of the figures, vehicles, and playsets and creator credit can be found in the legal text printed on the back of the toy packaging. The line featured many different variants of the TMNT, such as "Farmer Mike" and "Classic Rocker Leo". In addition, Playmates produced a series of TMNT/Star Trek crossover figures, due to Playmates holding the Star Trek action figure license at the time. Playmates employed many design groups to develop looks and styles for the ongoing toy line, including Bloom Design, White Design, Pangea, Robinson-Clarke, and McHale Design. Comic reality was maintained by visual artists at each of the firms, creating a wide range of compelling styles. The writing on the packaging came predominately from Pangea and White Design. Ancillary in-pack items, like the Turtle Maps and joke books were also wildly popular. All in all, the shows were often inspired by the collaboration of all these visual and written elements coming together. The Marketing VP of Playmates, Karl Aaronian, was largely responsible for assembling the talented team of designers and writers, which in turn, helped germinate continued interest in the toy line. Never before in toy history did an action figure line have such an impact for over two decades, generating billions of dollars in licensing revenue.

The series was highly popular in the UK where, in the run-up to Christmas, the Army & Navy Store in London's Lewisham devoted its entire basement to everything Turtle, including games, videos, costumes, and other items.

Playmates continues to produce TMNT action figures based on the 2003 animated series. The 2007 film, TMNT, also gave Playmates a new source from which to make figures. And in September 2007, NECA announced that they would produce figures based on character designs from the original Mirage comics. As of April 2008 there have been toys released of the four turtles with their weapons, a piece of an interhooking platform, a can of ooze, an unmutated turtle toy, and two alternate hands. It features a detailed color/design job as well as 20 points of articulation. August 2008, NECA announced a second wave, featuring Shredder, Casey Jones, and a Foot Soldier, but the future of the NECA line is unknown with Playmates releasing 25th anniversary TMNT toys.

Role-Playing Games

Among the first licensed products to feature the Ninja Turtles was a pen and paper RPG entitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness, published by Palladium Books in 1985. The game features a large list of animals, including pandas and sparrows, that are available as mutant player characters. Dark Horse Miniatures produced an attendant set of lead figurines. Numerous supplements were published expanding the TMNT universe through 1994, up until Palladium elected to refuse to renew the license facing the market aftermath of the 1987 cartoon series. Palladium is still producing After The Bomb material, and may consider relicensing TMNT depending on the performance of the CGI movie and other factors.[22]pie


RPG Supplements

Action Figures

During the run of the 1987 cartoon, Playmates Toys produced hundreds of TMNT action figures, along with vehicles, play sets, and accessories, becoming one of the top collectibles for children. Staff artists at Northampton Massachusetts based Mirage Studios provided conceptual designs for many of the figures, vehicles and playsets. The line featured many different variants of the TMNT, such as "Farmer Mike" and "Classic Rocker Leo." In addition, Playmates produced a series of TMNT/Star Trek crossover figures, due to Playmates holding the Star Trek action figure license at the time. Playmates continues to produce TMNT action figures based on the 2003 animated series.

Video games

Main article: Video games

The first Famicom/NES TMNT game was the single-player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, released by Konami/Ultra in 1989. It was unique in that at any point, the player could switch from one turtle to the next to take advantage of each Turtle's strengths. In addition, the player starts off in a strategic map where the player may explore sewer holes as well as engage patrolling enemy foot soldiers before entering any in-game portals.

TMNT Turtles in Time screenshot

Screenshot from Turtles in Time

Also released by Konami in 1989 was the first TMNT arcade game, also titled simply Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This side-scrolling "beat-em-up" was ported to the NES as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. This led to an NES-only sequel, entitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project, which used the look of the arcade game, as opposed the first NES game. The next home console Turtles game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, was released in 1991 as an arcade game, and was later ported to the Super Nintendo in 1992. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist was also created for the Sega Genesis in the same year, and used many of the art assets from Turtles in Time.

There was also a trilogy of TMNT video games for the original Nintendo Game Boy system made by Konami, consisting of: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back from the Sewers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue.

As the video game series progressed, programmers began to incorporate unique signature moves for each Turtle, as well as game features such as "Versus mode" and "Time Attack mode." When the Ninja Turtles' popularity began to decline in the mid-nineties, the video games changed direction. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters was released as a one-on-one fighting game similar to the Street Fighter series.

Konami also acquired the license to adapt the 2003 animated series into a video game franchise, resulting in a new series of games with the same button mashing gameplay as the old TMNT "beat 'em ups." (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 video game), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare) In 2006, Ubisoft acquired the rights of TMNT games, beginning with a game based on the 2007 animated feature film.[23] Recently, a new TMNT fighter called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up has been announced for the Wii and will be released in fall of 2009, to coincide with the series' 25th anniversary.[24]pie

In other media

Food tie-ins

During the height of their popularity (88-91) the Turtles had a number of food tie-ins. Among the most notable of these products was Ninja Turtles Cereal, produced by Ralston-Purina as a kind of "Chex with TMNT-themed marshmallows" which also came with a small pouch of; Pizza Crunchabungas, pizza flavored corn snacks in the shape of pizzas (the commercial starred the Ninja Turtles as Will Vinton-created claymations); Hostess Ninja Turtles Pudding Pies, featuring a green sugar crust and vanilla pudding inside; and Royal OOZE Gelatin Desserts, distributed by Nabisco under "Royal Gelatin" in three different flavors: orange, strawberry, and lime. Shreddies used to give out TMNT toys in their boxes when the cereal advertising was still geared toward children. One example of a TMNT prize was rings featuring a character on the cartoon.

Live appearances

Concert tour

TMNT-Coming Out of Their Shells

"Coming Out of Their Shells" album cover.

To capitalize on the Turtles' popularity, a concert tour was held in 1990, premiering at Radio City Music Hall on August 17.[25][26] The "Coming Out of Their Shells" tour featured live-action turtles (in costumes similar to the films) playing music as a band (Donatello; keyboards, Leonardo; bass guitar, Raphael; drums & sax, Michaelangelo; guitar) on stage around a familiar plotline: April O'Neil is kidnapped by the Shredder, the turtle guys have to rescue her.[27] The story had a very Bill-n'-Ted-esque feel, with its theme of the power of rock n' roll literally defeating the enemy, in the form of the Shredder (who only rapped, about how he hates music) trying to eliminate all music (Interestingly, the first two films featured hip-hop in their soundtracks). A pay-per-view special highlighting the concert was shown, and a studio album was also released.Stylistically, the music's genre was closest to hair metal/power rock.[28] The track listing is as follows:

Since the tour was sponsored by Pizza Hut in real life, there are many references to their pizza. Empty Pizza Hut boxes are seen onscreen during the "Behind The Shells" VHS. As part of a cross-marketing strategy, Pizza Hut restaurants gave away posters, audio cassettes of "Coming Out of Their Shells," and "Official Tour Guides" as premiums. The original show of the tour was released on video with a making of video also released. The song "Pizza Power" was later used by Konami for the second arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. In 1994 two more twenty-five minute videos were released featuring some of the same songs plus some others. They were called "We Wish You a Turtle Christmas", and "Turtle Tunes".

At the Disney-MGM Studios theme park

MGMTMNT

The TMNT as they appeared at Disney-MGM Studios.

On June 30, 1990, the TMNT arrived in the "New York Street" section of Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Orlando. Emerging from their Turtle Party Wagon, they would "ninja dance" across the stage while April performed the theme song to the show. After the main show was done they would pose for pictures and sign autographs. The Turtles made appearances in Walt Disney's "Very Merry Christmas Parade" to sing their own rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". They also appeared during the Easter parade dancing to their single "Pizza Power!" The Turtles' live shows and appearances ceased production in 1996.

Cultural impact

See also List of cultural references to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

As the self-published creation of two amateurs, the wildly lucrative TMNT inspired thousands of fans to self-publish their own comics, usually in black and white. The growth of independent comics, already underway when TMNT was launched, suddenly exploded, fueled by creators hoping to achieve the success of Eastman & Laird and speculators hoping to profit from the exploitation of supply and demand. Several new publishers such as Eclipse, First, Comico, and Dark Horse Comics grew to prominence during the 1980s independent comics boom. The economic effects were even felt in the UK comics industry. As Eddie Campbell would later write, "suddenly, because of the Turtles, the game was open to everybody." [1]

Parodies

Cracked Issue 255

Cover of Cracked #255, Aug 1990

Although the TMNT had originated as something of a parody, the comic's explosive success led to a wave of small-press, black & white comic parodies of TMNT itself, including Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters, Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos, and a host of others. Dark Horse Comics' Boris the Bear was launched in response to these TMNT clones; its first issue was titled "Boris the Bear Slaughters the Teenage Radioactive Black Belt Mutant Ninja Critters." Once the Turtles broke into the mainstream, parodies also proliferated in other media, such as in satire magazines Cracked and MAD Magazine and numerous TV series of the period. The satirical British television series Spitting Image featured a recurring sketch "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turds".[29].

Controversies

Departure from origins

In keeping with the "grim 'n gritty" feel of Frank Miller's Ronin/Elektra material, the Turtles engaged in a greater amount of overt violence in the pages of the early Mirage comic book series. As the TMNT were introduced into the mainstream, they were radically redesigned for a younger audience in the children's spinoff universes beginning with the first cartoon. This development incensed the core group of fans who had faithfully collected the independently-published comic series from its inception. They accused Eastman and Laird of selling out their indie roots in favor of corporate greed. In issue #19 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the creators published an editorial addressing these concerns. It stated, in part: "We've allowed the wacky side to happen, and enjoy it very much. All the while, though, we've kept the originals very much ours – forty pages of what we enjoy and want to see in our books, whether it comes from our own hands or from those of the talented people we work with."[30]

In the film Turtles Forever, the original Mirage Turtles refer to their descendents as "sell-outs," in reference to their colorful accessories (the originals are conveyed in black and white).

Children and consumerism

For many parents in the late 1980s, the Ninja Turtles phenomenon represented the latest in a series of shrewd cartoon-toy marketing strategies, a trend that had proven very profitable with Masters of the Universe, Transformers, and a host of other "good vs. evil" action-adventure franchises. Parents often found themselves at odds with children who demanded scads of toys and accessories after being subjected to so-called "30 minute commercials" delivered via after-school television.[31]

Teenage Mutant "Hero" Turtles

TMNTCensoredTitle

The altered UK opening sequence.

Upon TMNT's first arrival in the United Kingdom, the name was changed to "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles" (or TMHT, for short), since local censorship policies deemed the word ninja to have excessively violent connotations for a children's program.[32] Consequently, everything related to the Turtles had to be renamed before being released in the UK, making it sound lame and being the fault of Margaret Thatcher. The lyrics were also changed, such as changing "Splinter taught them to be ninja teens" to "Splinter taught them to be fighting teens."

The policies also had other effects, such as removing Michelangelo's nunchaku (which were at the time banned from appearing in even 18-rated movies) and generally toning down the usage of all the turtles' weapons. After many seasons of never using his nunchaku, they eventually disappeared entirely, replaced by a turtle shell shaped grappling hook called the "Turtle Line".

By the time of the 2003 TV series, these censorship policies had been abolished, and no changes have occurred in the content of the show. The name "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" remained unchanged for the 2003 show. As a result, in the UK, the 1987 program is still called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and the 2003 program is called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Ownership rights

Due to various movie and television deals, the various TMNT films & television series have split between various companies, with Mirage Studios having retained copyright and trademark until October 19, 2009, at which point the rights for the entire TMNT franchise were sold by co-creator Peter Laird to Nickelodeon.[33]

Television

The original animated series (1987–1996) was produced by Fred Wolf Films Dublin (as Murakami Wolf Swenson (MWS) and Murakami Wolf Dublin (MWD) during earlier seasons), and syndicated by Group W. The series itself is owned by Wolf Films, home entertainment rights reside with Lionsgate, and until recently, syndication rights belonged to former Nickelodeon corporate sibling CBS Television Distribution.Template:Citation needed

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation was produced by Saban Entertainment, and as of September 2011, is owned by Saban Brands and distributed by MarVista Entertainment.

The second animated series (2003–2009) was a co-production between Mirage Studios and 4Kids Entertainment. Nickelodeon's October 19, 2009 buyout of the TMNT franchise included an approximate $9.75 million payment to 4Kids to terminate its right to serve as the merchandise licensing agent prior to the scheduled expiration of the representation agreement in 2012.[5] Due to the buyout, all future TMNT film and television series rights are owned by Nickelodeon.[33]

Films

The first three TMNT live-action films were produced by Golden Harvest, with New Line Cinema (now a sister company of Warner Bros. Entertainment) distributing the films in the United States, with 20th Century Fox distributed the second and third films in most other territories. The first two films were copyrighted by the UK-based Northshore Investments. The third film was copyrighted by Clearwater Holdings. The fourth film was produced by Imagi Animation Studios, and released by Warner Bros. Entertainment in association with the Weinstein Company.

Michael Bay produced a feature film directed by Jonathan Liebesman titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and was released on August 8, 2014.

Comic books

Initially, Mirage allowed employees and freelancers to retain the rights to characters they created for the TMNT Universe but had never licensed for media and merchandise outside comic books. Eventually, due to the difficulty of keeping track of everyone's rights, Mirage made TMNT character creators sign retroactive work-for-hire contracts. One creator who did not sign over the rights to his TMNT work was Swamp Thing veteran Rick Veitch.[34]

See also

References

  1. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1320&dat=19950501&id=H0RWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=reoDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3412,181681
  2. "TMNT: The Rennaissance Reptiles Return", Kung Fu Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-12-27.
  3. I Was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (2007-01-26).
  4. Laird, Peter (2009-10-21). palblog: Musings about the sale. Retrieved on October 24, 2009.Template:Dead link
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Reuters
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named TMNTIMDB
  7. IDW Announces New Comic Series Based on the Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IDW Publishing April 1, 2011 Accessed April 7, 2011
  8. About the CreatorsTemplate:Dead link TMNT25.com (January 2009). Retrieved on 1–31–09.
  9. Simpson, Janice C.. "Show Business: Lean, Green and on the Screen", Time, April 2, 1990. Retrieved on 2010-03-03.
  10. "Power Rangers in Space: Shell Shocked"!
  11. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles On TV", IGN. Retrieved on 2010-08-15.
  12. "TMNT Celebrates 25 Years, III – Peter Laird", Newsarama. Retrieved on 2010-08-22.
  13. Official TMNT FAQ
  14. Cruz, Eileen (2011-04-04). WonderCon 2011 – PR: IDW to Publish New Ninja Turtles Series Based on Original Comics. toonzone news. Retrieved on April 5, 2011.Template:Dead link
  15. David McCutcheon (2011-03-09). TMNT Gets a Makeover. IGN TV. Retrieved on April 5, 2011.
  16. Eric Goldman (2009-10-21). New Ninja Turtles TV Series and Film Coming. IGN TV. Retrieved on April 5, 2011.
  17. Trivia for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Internet Movie Database
  18. Imagi
  19. Trailer for TMNT (2007). (Requires QuickTime)
  20. Meadows, Chris (2007-02-19). Kevin Siembieda Interview, Part 2 (mp3). Space Station Liberty. Retrieved on February 20, 2007.
  21. "Rapid-Paced Turtle Sales Starting to Slow Down : Toys: Rival manufacturers see a cooling of the 'Ninja' fad as a chance to regain a larger share of the market.", The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-11-09.
  22. Meadows, Chris (2007-02-19). Kevin Siembieda Interview, Part 2 (mp3). Space Station Liberty. Retrieved on February 20, 2007.
  23. Ubisoft to create video game based on 2007 TMNT movie
  24. New TMNT fighter on Wii made by former Brawl and Team Ninja developers. News.vgchartz.com. Retrieved on February 28, 2009.
  25. Givens, Ron. "Music news for August 17, 1990 – Prince and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made news this week", Entertainment Weekly, 1990-08-17. Retrieved on 2010-12-07.
  26. Pareles, Jon. "Review/Music; After the Hype, an Elaborate High-Tech Show for the Ninja Turtles Set", The New York Times, 1990-09-28. Retrieved on 2010-11-09.
  27. "Turtles Shell Out Ninja Concert Fun", The Los Angeles Times, 1990-11-30. Retrieved on 2010-08-27.
  28. "Shell Schlocked", Entertainment Weekly, 1990-10-12. Retrieved on 2010-12-07.
  29. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX924HL3pV0&feature=youtu.be&t=18m59s
  30. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vol. 1 #19, March, 1989.
  31. Seiter, Ellen (1993). Sold Separately: Parents and Children in Consumer Culture. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  32. Cohen, Susan. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Television: Who's winning the battle over kids' TV?", Washington Post Magazine, 1991-04-07.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Hall, Peter. So Much for a Dark and Twisted 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Movie. amazon.imdb.com. Retrieved on October 22, 2009.
  34. The Kevin Eastman Interview Part I|The Comics Journal. Tcj.com (2012-01-03). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
  • Eastman, Kevin (2002). Kevin Eastman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Artobiography. Los Angeles: Heavy Metal. ISBN 1-882931-85-8.
  • Wiater, Stanley (1991). The Official Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Treasury. New York: Villard. ISBN 0-679-73484-8.

External links

Comic books

1987 TV series

2003 TV series

Movies

Tour


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The TMNT Franchise
Comics: Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles | Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures | Daily comic strip
TV series: 1987 cartoon (episode list) | The Next Mutation | 2003 cartoon (episode list) (allusions)
Films: TMNT (1990) | TMNT II | TMNT III | TMNT (2007) | Turtles Forever
Games: Role-playing games | Video games
Other related articles: Comparisons within TMNT | Food tie-ins | Action figures | Cultural references
The TMNT Universe
Characters: Leonardo | Michelangelo | Donatello | Raphael | Splinter | April O'Neil | The Shredder | List of characters
Races and organisations: Foot Clan | Utrom | List of races and organisations
Objects and places: Battle Nexus | Dimension X | Magical objects | Planets | Robots | Technodrome

Start a Discussion Discussions about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (franchise)

  • Ideas for a new show

    • It will have characters from the 2012 series, similar tone to the 2003 series, and similar character designs to the mirage comics.
  • Are they not simultaneously in both human and turtle years?

    3 messages
    • Well they only live one life, so they can't be both human and turtle years. They're human-like enough I think it's always b...
    • Donnie Likes april, And Leo Likes Karai so I think they might have human D.N.A., but that means they have Splinter's which would make Ka...

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