Films based on the franchise created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Four have been made so far with a fifth one in the works, of which TMNT has its own page. Unlike the previous three however, it is not a sequel of the same movie series, but rather a complete Continuity Reboot.
Hey, dudes, this is NO cartoon!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
"Dudes and dudettes, major league butt-kicking is back in town!"
The Shredder is building an army. With his Foot Clan, a group of misguided teenagers trained in the art of ninjitsu, he is responsible for a crime wave the likes of which New York City has never seen. The worst thing is that they're ninjas. How do you catch someone so quick? So silent?Enter four reptilian hominids: Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael, given a humanoid shape through a dip in a broken canister full of mutagen. Trained by a similarly mutated rat named Splinter in the art of ninjitsu as well, along with moral support in investigative reporter April O'Neil and extra muscle in street vigilante Casey Jones, these Ninja Turtles must save the Big Apple from the clutches of the Foot.Financially the most successful of the movies made thus far, the first was mostly an adaptation of Eastman and Laird's original comic, although it did take some elements from the popular '80s cartoon, such as the turtles' love of pizza and their differently colored headbands, and April's job as an investigative reporter. The costumes provided for the eponymous heroes, as well as puppetry for Splinter and the turtles as young mutants, were provided by Jim Henson.
Go ninja go ninja go!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze (1991)
"Ten flips now...and remember... go ninja go ninja go!"
The Foot Clan is back, and back at the helm is Shredder, thought dead by practically everyone. Scarred from his dive into a trash compactor, he is out for revenge. Their numbers may be diminished, but they have something to even the odds. Taking a sample of the waste that birthed the Ninja Turtles from the TGRI laboratory, the Foot has two deadly enforcers in the form of Tokka and Rahzar, a mutated snapping turtle and wolf.Can the Turtles finally stop the Foot once and for all, or will Tokka and Rahzar's strength be too much?While it was still a money maker, it garnered some criticism from fans of the first film for toning down the violence and adult themes, and although Jim Henson's Creature Shop still worked on the movie, the costumes and animatronics were considered a little inferior, supposedly toning down the gritty detail to avoid scaring children (they still looked just fine, though). Generally considered more like the goofy cartoon than like the edgy comic, the best example of this being Shredder, who went from being a badass to still a bit of a badass but a little more bumbling. Despite these criticisms, it is still considered a guilty pleasure.This movie was also notable for the one-time character Keno—played by Ernie Reyes, Jr.—a martial artist/pizza delivery boy who provided some assistance for the turtles after they saved his hide from a group of muggers. He disappeared from the rest of the movies. Tokka and Rahzar were original characters made for the movie as well, but this would not be the last we would see of them. The mutant duo would appear later in an episode of the original cartoon, the video games Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time and The Manhattan Project, as well as the Intercontinuity Crossover movie Turtles Forever.Infamous for the appearance of rapper Vanilla Ice, who (in the context of the movie; it was presumably written ahead of time) came up with a rap almost instantaneously when the fight between the turtles and Tokka and Rahzar wound up at his gig at a club.Also the only Ninja Turtles movie made thus far to not feature Casey Jones. At all.
Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Averted; the Turtles are clearly using storm drains to travel (with Splinter explicitly stating that he found the book he used to name them in one) and their home is located in an abandoned control station (in the sequel they move into what appears to be an old pneumatic transit station). The sewer pipes are separated from the canals, and while real storm drains aren't quite that large, the New York system is large enough for a man to stand in.
Action Dress Rip: April, in the third film (though she does it between action scenes)
An Aesop: The first movie has one about fatherhood and family, with the good example (Splinter and the Turtles), the abusive/dysfunctional example (Shredder and the Foot) and the one stuck in the middle (Charles and Danny Pennington). Both Splinter and Shredder identify themselves as fathers, and, of course, Charles is Danny's father.
Art Shift: Splinter's flashbacks are shot differently from the rest of the film with a grainier, almost Film Noir look to them.
Badass Normal: The Shredder, Casey Jones and by the time of the 2007 film, April O'Neil and Karai. The Turtles and Splinter kinda count, if you consider that, outside of being mutants, they have no other special or enhanced properties.
Bash Brothers: All four of the Turtles, it's even Lampshaded in the battle of April's apartment that they're not used to fighting with a man down.
Been There, Shaped History: A shot is shown of statues and paintings of Winters in the Fourth film from Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and other time periods.
In the first film when it appears The Shredder is going to kill Leo.
Earlier, Raph lets one out when the Turtles find their home ransacked and Splinter missing, though it's more an inchoate scream of rage than anything.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The British DVD release for the first film did not do a good job with the subtitles, as it was clear they did not know the Japanese terms. The two most glaring mistakes were calling a 'sai' a 'scythe' (when Raphael exclaims to Splinter that he lost one), and spelling 'katana' as 'cattana' (when Splinter tells his back-story to Danny).
Bloodless Carnage: With the exception of the first movie all the fight scenes are bloodless, we see blood on the dead bodies of Master Yoshi and his lover Tang Shen, and Shredder bleeds from some of the wounds inflicted by Splinter in the flashback and Leonardo in the final fight.
Broad Strokes: The events of the first three movies, as applied to the fourth. It was basically confirmed by Word of God that, they did happen, just not in exactly the same way.
California Doubling: In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, though the film takes place in New York and Ancient Japan, many scenes are actually filmed in China's Hong Kong and in Astoria, Oregon. Back in the previous two movies before the third one, many scenes were shot in both New York and North Carolina, though both films take place in much of New York, anyway.
Lord Norinaga: Kenshin, I have forbid you for leaving the palace. You have disgraced me. Kenshin: It is you who have disgraced me, father. You and your unjust war. [Everyone is quiet. Norinaga was about to come down hard on him until Walker arrives.]
The Cameo: In the first movie, the Turtles' actors appear unmasked (David Forman - Leonardo costume - is a gang member in the warehouse when Casey Jones defeats Tatsu, Josh Pais - Raphael - is a passenger in a taxicab, Leif Tilden - Donatello - plays the Foot Messenger that meets April in the subway station, and Michelan Sisti - Michelangelo - plays the pizza delivery man)
But then, Leif Tilden doesn't really appear unmasked...
Well, there's the scene where Donnie laughs and you can see his face. Although that's a blooper rather than a cameo, it DOES mean his face appears onscreen.
Canon Foreigner: Lots: Tokka and Rahzar, Max Winters, Tatsu, Charles and Danny Pennington, Keno, everyone introduced in the third film...
Canon Immigrant: Several characters, such as Tokka and Rahzar, made their way into other TMNT continuities. However, Charles Pennington, April's boss from the first movie, stands out as the only film character to make it to the Mirage comics.
Chekhov's Gun: In the fourth film, at one point, Casey accidentally breaks a vase in Max Winters' home, causing an alarm to go off and several metal security doors to close and keep people from leaving. Later, seeing the Foot Clan coming to fight the turtles in Max's home again when they are hopelessly outnumbered, Casey breaks another vase deliberately, causing the doors to shut once more and keep the Foot Clan out temporarily.
The Comically Serious: Splinter, who finally learns how to crack wise at the end of the first movie. Fittingly, he becomes so delighted at this that he quips: "I made a funny! Ha ha ha ha!"
Splinter does this again at the end of the second movie, after scolding the turtles over revealing themselves, ending his 10 flips now command with a "Go Ninja, Go Ninja, go." As soon as they started to flip, Splinter went "I MADE ANOTHER FUNNY! HAHAHAHAHA!"
Invoked once more by Splinter to cheer up Michelangelo in the third movie. No sign of Splinter saying "I made another funny."
Composite Character: Oroku Saki and Oroku Nagi. (In the film, Saki, instead of Nagi, is the one who's Hamato Yoshi's rival and in love with Tang Shen.)
Could also be said about the turtles themselves. Aside from Raph, the turtles weren't very well-developed in the comics. While true to the comic, the movie applies some of the characterization from the cartoon (such as Mikey's immaturity and love of pizza) to make the turtles more unique. It worked out so well that the following adaptation did the same thing.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Averted, early on Raph is completely overwhelmed by a horde of Foot ninjas that beat him almost to death and later the other three are forced to retreat after being outnumbered as well. Played straight later where the Turtles defeat an entire army of ninjas but then have trouble against The Shredder alone.
Costume Copycat: Raphael assumes the mantle of Nightwatcher in the fourth film.
Creator Cameo: Michael Pressman, the director of the second movie, has a brief scene as April's boss at the news station.
Crowd Football: In the second film, the Turtles try their best to keep a canister of mutagen from falling into Foot hands.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Shredder completely dominates the turtles at the end of the first movie... Then Splinter shows up and takes out Shredder with a flick of the wrist.
Shredder vs. Leonardo wasn't necessarily a complete curb-stomp, though. While the Shredder was able to fight off Don, Raph, and Mikey with ease, Leo was able to hold his own against the Shredder and was able to actually WOUND the Shredder in a few places before he was finally fought off.
Darker and Edgier: The first movie when compared to the '80s cartoon. Justified as it was inspired more by the original Volume I comics by Mirage. The second and third movies Invert This, with the fourth film striking a satisfying balance between the two.
April actually has a little game she plays where she asks a cameraman to time her and see how long she can snark at Chief Sterns until he becomes so angry he throws her out of his office. The record is one minute and seven seconds.
Dedication: Ninja Turtles II was dedicated to Jim Henson
Disney Villain Death: Shredder and Walker in the first and third movies respectively, which The Angry Video Game Nerd — in his special review of the third — noted was a trope featured in other movies "TOO MANY FUCKING TIMES!"
Divergent Character Evolution: To one of the greatest degrees ever. Not only were the Turtles' conflicting personalities pushed further than they've ever gone but in the first movie each Turtle has a unique and distinctive look and body type that would make them recognizable even without their differently-colored masks. Leonardo is slim and athletic, Raphael is muscular with some tough-guy scars, Donny is a little chubby, and Mikey is short. The fourth movie mainly keeps these intact (although Donny's slimmed down a bit) and gives Mikey Innocent Blue Eyes to help show off his youth and innocence further.
Double Take: From "The Secret of the Ooze": Not just a double take, but a triple take when Keno first sees the Turtles in the background.
Appropriately enough, Tatsu is one of the Japanese words for "dragon."
Dropped the Docks on Him: Super-Shredder in the second movie, who re-emerged from the waters after drinking the entire canister of ooze in his possession in a desperate attempt to kill the turtles once and for all. His strength increased but his intelligence diminished severely—focused only on his targets, he causes the docks to collapse on him by recklessly hitting their foundations while the turtles just barely escape the destruction.
Dumb Muscle: Tokka and Rahzar. When he was kidnapped and forced by Shredder to mutate the two animals, TGRI Professor Jordan Perry altered the mutagen a little so that their intelligence would not increase. As such, when Shredder demands they call him "master," they misinterpret the word as "mama" and hug the bejesus out of him.
The Fagin: Shredder from the first movie essentially ran the Foot Clan this way. The Foot Clan was made up of teenage orphans and runaways who instigated a massive New York crime wave.
Family-Unfriendly Violence: The first movie is pretty loaded with this, as it's more of an adaptation of the comic rather than the cartoon. In particular are the scenes where Raphael is mercilessly beaten to near-death, the entire fight in April's apartment (where a Foot ninja accidentally hits a power main with his axe and starts jerking around and smoking), Tatsu's beating of Shinsho to near-death (or actual death if you go by the original script), Tatsu's beating of Casey Jones, and the Shredder being crushed inside the compactor of a garbage truck. It shocked so many people that in the second movie the Turtles barely even touch their weapons, let alone use them against people. The third movie, for all its problems, attempted to fix this.
Floorboard Failure: The first movie has this occur in the middle of a fight between the Turtles and the Foot clan on the second floor of April's apartment. Given that the floor had been hacked at with ninja axes and the number of people in the room at the time this was inevitable. Donatello even tries to warn the Foot.
Donatello: Uh, guys, I'm not so sure if this is, structurally speaking... such a good time for your buddies to drop in.
Foot soldiers drop in through the skylight. Seconds later epic floorboard failure occurs.
Charles: See? That's what he does when he wants to ignore me. Sticks his head in those things.
Hidden Depths: Casey Jones is initially presented as a crude, violent, vigilante. April describes him as "a 9-year-old trapped in a man's body."
Highly-Visible Ninja: At the end of the second movie, which involved the Turtles fighting (and dancing) in a nightclub, in full view of an entire crowd of people, Splinter asks them if they were seen by anybody upon their return home.
Donatello: The perimeter's quiet. Leonardo: Yeah, a little too quiet. Michelangelo: Come on. (Don takes out two henchmen) Donatello: Well, that was easy. Leonardo: Yeah, a little too easy. (Raph is tied to a post) Donatello: Look, it's Raph! Michelangelo: Yeah, a little too Raph. (Mikey gets smacked for being a wiseass)
He tries it again, after taking down Leonardo, he orders the other Turtles to throw away their weapons, or else he would kill him. After they have done so...
Shredder: Fools... The three of you might have been able to overpower me with the loss of but one. Now your fate...WILL BE HIS! *readies killing strike on Leonardo*
Least Common Pizza Topping: The first film has Michelangelo ordering a pizza near the beginning of the movie as Splinter talks about the "art of invisibility". As Splinter is finishing up his speech, Mikey is just about to finish the order, and he says, "Oh, but no anchovies, and I mean no anchovies. You put anchovies on this thing and you're in big trouble, okay?" right before Splinter throws a book at his head.
Lighter and Softer: The first sequel, mostly because of the Moral Guardians. The second sequel takes it Up to Eleven. The third sequel subverts this, by having Raph & Leo fight each other which ends when Raph nearly kills Leo.
Mood Whiplash: The first movie seems like almost as funny and lighthearted as the cartoon series (it's a little bit darker, but we have to Avoid the Dreaded G Rating here!), until the Turtles return home to find it completely destroyed and Splinter missing. Watching it as a little kid, the effect is like someone punching you in the stomach.
Made slightly worse because the centerpiece of the wreckage is a pile of maroon laundry in the center of the room that, in the darkness, looks oddly gorey if you don't realize what it is
The apartment fight scene starts out pretty comedic and triumphant, giving us the impression that this could be an easy win. However when they are overrun with foot soldiers the music and the mood changes. Even the music itself is pretty much saying Oh Crap.
My God, What Have I Done?: Danny looks at April's apartment on fire in tears, knowing it's because he told Shredder he saw one of the Turtles there.
More of a "My God, What Have I NEARLY Done?" example, but Raphael during the fourth film when he realizes that, in his rage, he was dangerously close to killing his own brother after a fiery battle; the realization causes him to run away in fear. Of course a straighter example happens soon after when Leonardo, beaten and weakened, is easily captured by the Stone Generals and Raphael is unable to stop them from taking him. He blames himself entirely for this.
While the first movie is mostly based on the original Mirage Studios comics, it had a few elements from the 80s cartoon: different-colored bandanas, their love for pizza, April being a news reporter, and Michelangelo's Catchphrase "Cowabunga".
"Check out East Warehouse on Lairdman Island." (reference to Eastman and Laird, of course).
No One Could Survive That: Subverted in the second movie. The exact line was quoted after Super Shredder was crushed by a collapsing pier, but it turns out he really couldn't survive that after all.
Not so Above It All: Straight-laced Master Splinter, at the end of the first three films, will show that he's not above making the occasional joke like the turtles.
First film: I have always liked...'Cowabunga'.
Second film: Ten flips now! And remember... Go, ninja, go, ninja, go!
Parental Bonus: In the second movie, after falling into the Foot's trap at the junkyard:
Donatello: These nets are very effective and very well-constructed. Michaelangelo: Yeah, remind me to drop a line to Ralph Nader!
Physical Fitness Punishment: Michelangelo is made to do back-flips as a punishment in Secret of the Ooze. When Splinter notices that Mike has started just jumping up and down to make it sound like he was doing back-flips, he makes him do more.
Pragmatic Adaptation: The first movie, which satisfactorily combined two very different version of the turtles into a successful whole.
Precision F-Strike: Well, D-Strike anyway. Raphael curses twice in the film, a short "damn" in the opening in frustration at losing a sai (thus giving away a vital clue to their existence) and again as a Skyward Scream after being bested by Casey Jones.
And who could forget "NINJA KICK THE DAMN RABBIT!"
And during Mike & Don's rock paper scissors match at the climax: "One, two, three! Damn."
It's easy to miss, but Raph actually says "bitchin'" near the end of the film.
Walker: Children can be such a pest. Especially when they're friends with the enemy.
Revenge Before Reason: After transforming into Super Shredder at the end of the second film, Shredder becomes completely determined to kill the Turtles, by collapsing the entire pier, and not even caring that his actions could kill him as well.
Leonardo: Shredder! You've gotta listen to reason! You're gonna destroy us all!
Super Shredder: Then so be it!
Shredder spends the entire second movie like this, several characters even call him on it.
Rooftop Confrontation: Raphael heads to the roof after a spat with Leonardo and gets jumped by a butt-load of Foot ninjas. He holds his own for a while, but after a while, they kick his ass and throw him through ceiling and proceed to fight the rest of the Turtles.
Running Gag: The Turtles say things like "awesome" and "wicked," while Don says something lame like "Bossa Nova" or "A Capella."
Sarcasm Mode: April thinks Casey was acting like this when he tells her she got fired.
Casey:Hey, you just saved yourself an 8-mile round tripper: you're fired. April: I... I just saved myself? Don:Uh-oh. April: What did you do? Did you take classes in insensitivity? Casey: I was just trying to break it to you easy. April: Well, you failed miserably! Casey: You wouldn't even be standing there if it weren't for me!
Scars Are Forever: In the first movie, Raphael has a scar on his cheek from some unexplained injury, while Shredder has scars on his cheek from a pre-mutation Splinter.
If you look closely in the first two movies all of the turtles have little nicks and dings all over their shells, probably from a life time of ninja training.
Screaming Warrior: Raphael in the first movie, when they find their home trashed and Splinter gone.
A better example would be his rescue of April from the Foot in the subway when he gets his missing sai back.
Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: In the fourth film, Splinter forbids the Turtles from fighting until they can act as a team. He becomes frustrated as Leo and Raph argue. But after learning that Leo has been captured, he decided they've been hiding for too long and its time to take action.
Secret Keeper: Besides April and Casey, there's also Danny and Keno. The people at the dance club don't count.
Well, they do immediately tell the press...
But they assumed they were people in costumes (one guy thinks so, yet he and his date are vaguely aware of a rat). And the owners of the club assumed they were hired extras.
Seen It All: The cabbie in the first movie, especially compared to his fare.
*Raphael somersaults over the hood of the cab*
Passenger: What the hell was that?!
Cabbie: Looked like sort of a big turtle, in a trench coat. You're goin' to LaGuardia, right?
Sequel Hook: At the end of TMNT, Karai mentions that soon enough, the Turtles would have further business involving her and "familiar faces from your past," to which Raphael responds, "She doesn't mean..." While we may never see a sequel, it seems like they planned to make a movie where the Shredder returns.
Shoot The Television: Shredder is introduced in the first movie watching a wall of TV screens. When April appears on the news and indicates that she knows too much about the Foot Clan, Shredder throws a knife at her face on the TV screen.
"Find her. SILENCE her!"
Shout-Out: Present in most of the movies, such as Mikey's quoting of famous movie lines at April's apartment in the first, and the revelation of Splinter's favorite show (or one of them) being Gilmore Girls in the fourth. However, the third features shout outs considered by most to be absolutely cringe-worthy, such as...
In the monster roundup scene in TMNT, there is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment of a monster that looks just like Wildmutt.
The Addams Family line quoted above. It was probably supposed to be a Take That at Addams Family Values, a sequel to the first Addams Family movie that was coming out the same year as Ninja Turtles III, but even with that kind of context it makes no sense, especially since Donny is asking this to a group of guards in 1603 Japan.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Delivered by Splinter and Casey to the Foot members still identifying Shredder as a father figure, essentially telling them that the Shredder cares nothing for them; he merely uses them for his own selfish desires.
Shut Up, Kirk!: Shredder attempts this in the first movie, when Splinter is lecturing him while holding him over a ledge.
Splinter: Death comes for us all, Oroku Saki, but something much worse comes for you, for when you die, it will be... Shredder: [tries to stab Splinter, who instead releases his grip on Shredder's weapon, making him fall into the garbage truck] Splinter: [finishes] ...without honor.
As noted above, Raph has another, unintelligible one when Splinter is kidnapped.
That scream can even be heard on the surface. An old man walks by and hears it, but shakes his head "nah, it couldn't be".
Soap Within a Show: In the 2007 movie Splinter references his "stories" and says "Cody is going to break up with Donna, I just know it.", but nothing else about it is revealed.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Raphael gets the lion's share of the focus in the first movie, taking over a plot that belonged to Leo in the original comics. TMNT could accurately be said to star only two turtles—Raphael and Leo—with the other two as supporting characters.
The Unchosen Ones: In the second movie, the Turtles discover that the creation of the ooze that changed them was purely an accident. Don was not very happy to learn this. He always thought they were special and believes there's got to be more to it. There isn't.
A lot of Donny's failed attempts at slang are this.
Villain Decay: The Foot, in the first half of the first film they prove to be dangerous as they manage to overwhelm the turtles and deliver a brutal beatdown to Raph putting him in a Coma. By the second half the turtles are swatting them aside with no problem and it gets worse for them in the Second Film where they don't even land a hit.
You Fight Like a Cow: The Turtles constantly mock and goad their opponents in battle. Don and Mikey are the two biggest offenders but even Leonardo and Raph get in on this one. They only stop joking at the very end, when the Shredder seriously pisses them off.
Of course, with the way the fight had been going, the turtles could hardly justify talking smack against the way the Shredder fights in the first place.
You Have Failed Me: Shredder stares at Tatsu, who realized he failed. Tatsu takes his anger out on the Foot ninjas he was commanding, almost (maybe?) killing one.
Your Mom: In the fourth film Mikey makes a crack about Donnie's mother smelling like a monster. Donnie then points out that she'd be Mikey's mother too.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: In the second film, the Turtles do the "Cowabunga!" high-five celebration after the Shredder's apparent demise— only to have Super Shredder tear the dock out from underneath them.
You Watch Too Much X: It's implied that the Turtles watch a LOT of TV (especially Mikey). It's not like there's too much else for them to do.
Don skateboards and Raph goes to movies.
Judging by the mess he leaves in the second movie Leonardo like to read comic books.
Yuppie Couple: 1/2 of it; in the second film, April meets a couple. Later, that guy is working at the club in the climax.