Turtle Power

Here we see the latest model, the Tortoise 9000! Strong, durable, and only 5000 gold!
Only available in hardtop.

"High Five, Turtle!"
Matt Parkman, Heroes

Just like Monkeys and Penguins, people have an odd fascination with turtles. They come off as clumsy, shy and slow, and helpless if turned on their shell, but they also appear wise and spiritualistic at times. They are also among the longest-living animals on the planet. If you want a very elderly funny animal, it's usually going to be a tortoisenote . If they get large enough, they can also qualify as a fantastic transport or living island (or in the case of one series and certain mythologies, the entire world).

Sea turtles in particular are quite popular and are often included as charismatic megafauna for ocean and beach conservation. Giant Tortoises are also quite popular for island conservation, especially the Galapagos Tortoise, which the islands were named after.

They're also notable as the main exception to the Reptiles Are Abhorrent trope, being seen as slow, cute, and non-threatening. A localized exception is the snapping turtle, which isn't generally considered cute, and pretty bad-tempered to boot.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Comcast Cable has, as their mascots for high speed Internet, the speed-hating Slowskys - a husband and wife turtle couple.
  • "Mr Turtle, how many lick does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?"
  • "Vonu" is an American-style lager brewed in Fiji by the Island Brewing Co. It has a sea turtle as its mascot. The word "vonu" is also Fijian for "sea turtle."

    Anime and Manga 
  • Squirtle, Torkoal and Turtwig are all examples of turtle Pokémon. Squirtle and Turtwig are both starter Pokemon, and one of the more popular ones in their generation, while Torkoal is the signature Pokemon of gym leader Flannery. Ash, the main character of the series, has had all three of them at one point or another.
  • Love Hina Cute little Tamago aka Tama-chan, who was originally Mutsumi's pet that she gave to Keitaro as a gift. Tama-chan also happens to be able to fly.
  • Dragon Ball had not only Master Roshi, the Turtle Hermit (whose Training from Hell involves wearing huge turtle shells on your back all day), but also his pet turtle, which also happened to be a competent martial artist, and "Baby Gamera".
    • And the signature move of the series has the Japanese word for "turtle" in the name. Roughly translated, it means "Turtle Destruction Wave". How cool is that?
      • Word of God says he was inspired by a trip to Hawaii, and a statue of their King Kamehameha. The rest is history.
  • Speaking of which, Kamemon in Digimon Savers, as well as Ebonwumon and Eldradimon.
    • Especially Ebonwumon: he's one of The Four Gods, and they thought his back was a forest when he first appeared.
  • Naruto: Might Guy is capable of summoning ninja turtles (no, not those ninja turtles), though he doesn't do it very often.
    • There is also a giant island in The Land of Lighting that's really just a ginormous turtle....With another semi-ginormous turtle on top.
  • The unnamed turtle in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure part 5 had a stand called Mr. President that enabled the heroes to use his shell as Hammerspace.
  • One of the aliens that the Wolkenritter stole Mana from in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's were giant turtles with metal plates and shells containing rocky protrusions. As one could guess from the description, they weren't the docile type of fictional turtles.
  • One of the One Piece movies featured an island that turned out to be giant turtle, which the Big Bad had set his eyes on manipulating to help him Take Over the World.
  • The wise old turtle from Mori No Ando who the animals go to for advice and appears to be able to read kanji.
  • DokiDoki! Precure has Melan, a old fairy who looks like a turtle. However, she can fight when she transforms into a huge dragon. she defeats the five Pretty Cure twice!
  • A symbolic instance with the Ōarai Student Council/"Turtle Team" from Girls und Panzer: their logo is that of a running Turtle, but their tank, a Panzer 38(t) light tank, doesn't actually live up to the toughness of their namesake's shell. That changes when they upgraded it into a JagdPanzer 38(t) Hetzer.

    Card Games 
  • The Horned Turtle is an iconic high-toughness/low-power defensive creature card from Magic: The Gathering. The game also has a plain ol' Giant Turtle and Giant Tortoise. The slowest turtle is probably Meandering Towershell, which moves so slowly that whenever it attacks, it takes a turn to actually reach your opponent.
  • Magi-Nation has the Parathin and the Giant Parathin, both of which function as Fantastic Transport. In addition, the Torpar is a mobile village. The Yarothis is a flying turtle.
  • Sopio has the "Time Traveling Tortoise", which reverses play direction.
  • The Attribute Reptiles, of Yu-Gi-Oh!, are high-cost Monsters that nuke the field of anything not in their attribute when destroyed. Each one takes the form of a different reptile: a crocodile for Fire, a basilisk for Dark, a sea snake for Water, and so on. Three guesses what the Light reptile is, and the first two don't count.

    Comic Books 

    Film 

    Folk Lore 
  • It should be mentioned that one of The Four Gods is a turtle. A turtle that is having sex (some say consensually, others not) with a giant snake.
  • Many mythologies, particularly Hindu and Native American ones, have the earth on the back of a tortoise. The creature in Hindu Mythology varies quite a bit, but the most well-known version in the West is this guy. Another Hindu turtle of importance is Kurma. While not ubiquitous, this is common enough among Native American cultures for some to propose using the name "Turtle Island" as a truly American (non-European) replacement name for the continent of North America ("America" is derived from some Italian guy's name).
  • Aesop's Fables: In particular, The Tortoise and the Hare.
  • Kusu Island, one of Singapore's several offshore territories, was said to be created when an ancient turtle transformed into an island to save Chinese and Malay sailors when their boat capsized during a storm. To this day, a temple on Kusu Island raises tortoises and turtles alike.
  • The Japanese folktale about Urashima Taro involves him rescuing a turtle that then takes him to an Undersea Palace.
  • Also from Japan is the Kappa; basically an anthropomorphic turtle with a few extra features. Essentially a bogeyman of rivers, the Kappa was originally blamed for deaths caused by drowning, and in time evolved a complex mythology of its own. It has a hole on top of its head that carries water, allowing it to survive on land, and hence can be defeated by causing it to spill, loves to eat cucumbers, and according to some sources, eats through its butt. The Koopas from Super Mario Bros. games are based on this legend.
  • In Greek Mythology, Hermes is associated with turtles/tortoises because he made the first lyre out of a shell.

    Literature 
  • Great A'Tuin, the multiverse's largest turtle, carries the Discworld on his back through space. With elephants.
    • Based on Hindu mythology, slightly seasoned for taste with extra elephants.
    • Also, Small Gods features the Great God Om stuck in the shape of an ordinary tortoise.
  • Somewhat Not a Subversion'd with Dr. Seuss' Yertle the Turtle, but he isn't outright evil, just greedy. He was, however, an allegorical stand in for Hitler as Dr. Seuss stated in an interview.
  • The turtle wizard Clothahump in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series. This trope is rather literal as he is the most powerful wizard in the entire world.
  • Morla, the giant swamp turtle in The NeverEnding Story.
  • Also from a Michael Ende story: Cassiopeia, the wise turtle from Momo who can see half an hour into the future, and communicates by making letters appear on her shell.
  • The Clutch in the Liaden Universe. Big, ancient, smart turtle species. Very, very polite, but do not mess with them.
  • In the Redwall book Rakkety Tam, the MacGuffin being sought by the villain is the "Walking Stone", which is the symbol of power in his homeland and must be owned by the king. It turns out to be a tortoise, which is nicknamed "Rockbottom" and adopted as a semi-sapient pet by the heroes. (Ironically, the villain, despite being a savage maniac in all other respects, must have kept pretty good care of it for a cold-blooded animal to survive in the "Lands of Ice and Snow".)
  • In the Stephen King multiverse, especially The Dark Tower series, The Turtle is a benevolent force who watches over various characters and even acts as a type of Deus ex Machina at times. The "Voice of the Turtle" is the force which compels King to write, especially about things related to The Dark Tower.
    • More specifically, in The Dark Tower series the Turtle is one of the old gods/guardians which protect the foundations of the Tower itself.
      • There's also a small figurine referred to as the "sköldpadda" that is used by the ka-tet; it has hypnotic effects which make people very open to suggestion. The name literally means "turtle" in Swedish, and it was coined by a Swedish diplomat Susannah meets in 1999, and due to its influence he cheerfully gives her directions and money for a hotel stay.
    • Also in It, where the Losers are sort of the champions of the Turtle. Unfortunately, the Turtle apparently dies in their universe before their Final Battle (although It very well may have been lying to Bill when he said that in an attempt to discourage him although probably not, given the line "Oh, shit, the Turtle really IS dead!"
  • Peter Hatcher's pet turtle Dribble in Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
  • In Dinoverse Bertram's Ankylosaur body is frequently compared to that of a turtle, albeit one with more offensive capabilities. As descriptors go, "clumsy, shy, and slow" fit him well. He considers himself plodding but with a powerful intellect. Mike has to help him when he gets overturned, turtle-style. They also encounter a beach full of Archelons, enormous sea turtles, laying their eggs and being preyed on. Mike decides to try and attack their predators.

    Live Action TV 
  • Underwater nature documentaries love to show swimmers riding the back of a turtle.
  • The Discovery Channel mockumentary The Future Is Wild has Toratons. They are basically dinosaur-sized turtles with less shell.
  • Why are you talking to the turtle, Pac Man?
    • "High five, Turtle!"
  • Jeremiah, the wise old turtle in Bear in the Big Blue House. Oh, and he runs the Post Office.
  • Crabman has a box turtle, named Mr Turtle, who occasionally suffers from the actions of others.
    • He also once got lost, and had all kinds of crazy adventures (ran in a marathon, got caught in the middle of a gang war, and mated with another turtle he found) on the way back.
  • On Stargate Atlantis, Dr. Beckett decides that the ideal pet for him would be turtles, as they don't require much care or space (any animal that did require such would be unfairly served by him and his job) but are still appealing to him. He reveals this when they're leaving on a particularly dangerous mission, and he realizes he never left any instructions that the "baby wee turtles" should be cared for, lamenting, "Ah've prob'ly killed them." Deleted scenes from a later episode establish that the turtles survived, and that after Carson died, they passed into Rodney's care.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
    • The first season featured Shellshock as a Monster of the Week
    • The second season has Tor the Shuttlezord. He's big, he's green, and more often than not the only way you'll know he's there is the growing shadow from him about to crush you from above.
  • Mia's Zord on Power Rangers Samurai is of the flying sea turtle variety.
  • Abby of NCIS had a pet turtle as a kid large enough to ride on. She was told that the turtle would be replaced with a wagon upon its passing, but that turtle hung in there...
  • The Home Base in Choujuu Sentai Liveman, the Gran Tortoise, is shaped exactly like what you think it's shaped like.
  • Maura Isles on Rizzoli & Isles has a giant turtle... "It's a tortoise!"
  • It's probably obligatory to mention Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation here—although many people see it as Turtle LACK of Power.
  • Motoki in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is obsessed with turtles, specifically his pet turtle Kamekichi.
  • Elementary: After his owner is found murdered, Clyde the turtle is taken in by Sherlock Holmes and can be seen wandering around Sherlock's brownstone, or being used as a paperweight.
  • CSI had an episode where a guy was killed accidentally in the same way as Aeschylus. He was a fringe religion starter who called himself The Steven and got the shell dropped on his bald head.
  • The Genio Innocuo in Grimm, one of the most peaceful and harmless Wesen.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Amy had a brief infatuation with adopting a turtle as the perfect house pet - until one bit him.

    Music 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Churchy La Femme in Pogo certainly subverts the 'wise' trope.
  • John the Tortoise from B.C.
  • Filmore the sea turtle from Sherman's Lagoon.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons had humanoid turtles called tortles (as well as an evil subrace oh-so-imaginatively called snappers) and giant turtles, including the snapping variety.
    • In second edition there were also giant turtles frequently mistaken for islands. Their inhabitants tended to live in fear of it awakening and submerging.
    • The third-party DragonMech setting had humanoid turtles called tortogs, whose Feel No Pain made them very good at smuggling in an environment where agonizing micrometeorite showers are a nightly hazard.
  • Legend of the Five Rings features the minor and mercantile Turtle clan, who are mostly despised by the rest of Rokugan for their semi-secret mission of being the Empire's contact with the Gaijin, but they have the direct support of the Emperor in that mission.
  • In the tabletop RPG Werewolf: The Apocalypse, each tribe follows a specific totem whose beliefs, goals, and philosophies match those of the tribe. The extinct Croatan (yes, that Croatan) followed Turtle as their totem, due to their ties to the Earth element and the recurring myth that the world is carried on the back of a turtle. After the tribe's Heroic Sacrifice, Turtle withdrew his support from the werewolves for over 500 years. When the Old World of Darkness line ended, a possible scenario for the end of the world involved Turtle's return.
    • The Mokole weresaurians once had a chelonian subgroup, the Ao, who gradually disappeared over a period of time from the sixth century BCE to the first century CE. Unlike most fallen Changing Breeds, no-one knows what caused the Ao's disappearance.

    Video Games 
  • Pretty prominently featured with the Koopas from the Super Mario Bros. series. Most of them are intelligent but very nasty, especially Bowser and his kin, but the rank-and-file are still kinda cute and cartoony. After the switch to 3D, numerous good Koopas have turned up as well.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has a turtle enemy called Snapper, and an island that turns out to be a giant turtle (which also appears in the Great Bay stage of Super Smash Bros. Melee).
  • The Animal Crossing games all have the elderly tortoise Tortimer as the mayor of town. He's retired in New Leaf, but still shows up to host the mini-games on the tropical island.
  • The Quadav from Final Fantasy XI are a large-scale subversion of Always Chaotic Evil. Think Indians vs. Colonists, and you can get an idea of why they fight back.
    • The ancient Sage Ghido from Final Fantasy V is the oldest living creature in the world, supremely wise, monumentally sarcastic (especially towards Bartz) and can engage Exdeath in hand-to-hand combat that leaves the young adventurers positively flabbergasted. He still needs help flipping over if knocked on his back, though.
    • Adamantoise enemies from Final Fantasy XIII bear only a passing resemblance to turtles, but they've got the "power" part down.
  • World of Warcraft has turtle beasts, typically immense and fanged, with heavy armour. Wild turtles can be tamed as Hunter pets and as one can expect, are good for tanking. Lastly, one of the trading card bonuses is a ridable turtle without any requirements, but it's not any faster than walking (and recently, a new turtle mount has been introduced, which is obtainable by fishing and gives movement speed bonuses only while swimming). One quest involves two talking turtles as well.
    • One dungeon has a turtle for a boss, called Ghamoo-ra. Another turtle in the wild is called Gammerita. Unlike Gamera, both are very much hostile, though.
    • Even larger turtles are or have been used as ships by the Horde and the tuskarr of Northrend. In Cataclysm we get to meet the even larger turtle ancient Tortolla (and combat his Evil Twin Nemesis, who is also on fire), and Mists of Pandaria takes it even further with Shen-zin Su, a Turtle Island of massive proportions.
    • The Pandaren's racial mount is a dragon turtle as well, and comes in the normal and epic speeds like any other. This averts the usual perception of turtles as slow, since they are indeed capable of sprinting when necessary.
    • As a Shout-Out to the Trope Namer, some of the wild turtles in Pandaria have a spinning attack called Turtle Power.
  • The Touhou series used to feature a flying turtle named Genji as main character Reimu Hakurei's main method of transportation. He has not been seen since the series migrated to Windows and Reimu learned to fly on her own. Word of God is that he now lives in a pond behind the shrine.
  • The Ninth Colossus from Shadow of the Colossus, a really, really big turtle/tortoise, is very nasty. Also one of the hardest Colossi in the game.
  • Bentley from Sly Cooper. Even after he loses the use of his legs in the second game, he still proves to be essential to the Cooper Gang.
  • The Turtle Tamer is a class in Kingdom of Loathing. Their ultimate ability is actually called "Turtle Power". They're essentially The Beastmaster with turtles, being in tune with ancient turtle spirits who give them blessings and able to tame turtles as familiars (hence the name). Live turtles are also used in lieu of helmets, apparently without any harm to the turtle. You can even get them upgraded with linoleum or chrome plating.
  • A sidequest in Golden Sun ends with a large turtle offering (through telepathy) to carry the party to his secret island, where they can fight powerful monsters and a sub-boss who grants a useful summon. To get him to offer this you have to bring him a baby turtle who relieves his loneliness, much to his surprised joy.
  • In 3D games of the Tales Series, truck-sized tortoises are a common monster type. They tend to not be very threatening, due to moving and attacking slowly, and being very large targets. Tales of Symphonia has the enemies called turtles and their Tethe'allan counterparts crush turtles.
  • In Monster Hunter, one common source of meat is the peculiar turtle/dinosaur cross known as an Apceros. They're also one of the few herbivores which will actually chase and attack the player on sight - albeit verrry slooooowly.
  • Psychonauts: Mr. Pokeylope, an infantile old lady's pet with a deep voice and a mind full of stratagems. "That's right baby, Daddy's here. Everything's going to be alllllright."
  • Toss The Turtle. Yes, you get to throw turtles. With cannons.
  • Tiptup from Diddy Kong Racing, considered to be one of the best drivers in the game. He proved to be popular enough to have cameos in a later series starring one of his fellow racers, Banjo-Kazooie.
  • In Aquaria, you ride an Ancient Turtle to speed-travel. The game also has an entire cave full of peaceful turtles, looked over by a gigantic Turtle Mother.
  • In Super Metroid, there are several turtles in one room in Maridia, a large one and several smaller ones. The smaller ones, presumably children, are docile, but the larger one can go Mama Bear on you if you're not careful.
  • In Infocom's Enchanter, a turtle is one of the friendly creatures you encounter, and its shell combined with a haste...er, exex...spell make it a useful ally in getting one necessary item.
  • Rainy Turtloid from Mega Man X6 and Heat Genblem from Mega Man Zero 4. One of the bosses in Mega Man 7 was a robotic tortoise.
  • Tartagon mounts in Rift: basically giant two-headed riding tortoises.
  • In Return to Mysterious Island, spotting a sea turtle on the beach and backtracking it to its eggs is what part of what keeps your stranded character alive.
  • Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu has flying turtles as the typical sort of platforms that move up and down in mid-air.
  • Gohma squashers from Asura's Wrath.
  • In Robo Aleste, the Stage 6 boss is a gunship shaped like a turtle, with a retractable head.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online has a variety of giant turtles, most of which toss characters across the map. Notable turtles include one of the harder mid-level quest instances (The Tomb of Elendil) and Nornuan, a turtle that is an entire raid unto itself.
  • Guild Wars has the Luxon. Their turtle clan builds nomadic cities on the backs of giant land tortoises, and they strap cannons to turtles to make mobile siege platforms.
  • Kickle Cubicle has a turtle enemy named Myrtle that likes to drop into its shell and charge.
  • Pokémon
    • Squirtle, a water-shooting turtle is one of the starters in the first two games; it was pretty popular, likely because it evolves into Blastoise, a giant turtle with cannons on it's shell. Another turtle starter, grass Turtwig was available in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
    • There's also Torkoal from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, a fiery tortoise.
    • The fifth generation adds Tirtouga and Carracosta, based on the prehistoric Archelon.
  • In the Mahou Daisakusen series, turtles bear cannons, tanks, and sometimes whole fortresses.
  • The Zeshrayda from Phantasy Star Online 2 is a massive bipedal turtle with rocket thrusters in its shell, cannons on its back, and a demonic-looking face on both sides of its shell. It calls to mind a certain other giant turtle rather readily, though this one is most definitely not a friend to all children..
  • In Ordyne, the second boss is a giant turtle.

    Webcomics 
  • Koan Of The Day has a tortoise who seems to know more about zenlightenment than anyone.
  • Not Quite Daily Comic has Lulu, one of the rare instances of a Turtle Girl
  • Everybody in Tower of God, if you believe Rak Wraithraiser. He refers to anybody but Anak as 'turtles', often in a derogatory fashion. The best thing about it? He's a giant alligator that hunts and fights so-called strong turtles in order to become stronger himself.
    • Hendo Lok Bloodmadder, a man obsessed with immortality, who has after achieving his goal been given the moniker long-life sea turtle, because of turtles renowned longevity.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • A 5th century B.C.E. Greek writer (claimed to be the founder of Greek tragedy), Aeschylus, was reportedly killed when an Eagle, attempting to crack open a turtle shell, mistook Aeschylus's bald head for a rock and dropped the turtle on it. Despite the fact that Aeschylus was killed instantly, the turtle lived. Turtles > Greek Writers.
  • Any true Marylander knows that you should Fear the Turtle. Because you should REALLY fear the turtle.
  • Anything capable of living more than a century and a half has to be pretty cool.
  • Any animal that decides to grapple and chew on one should beware of a horror-filled revenge.
  • The largest known turtle to have existed, Archelon, lived in the Cretaceous Niobrara Basin. The largest Archelon fossil, found in the Pierre Shale of South Dakota in the 1970s, measures more than 4 metres (13 ft) long, and about 4.9 metres (16 ft) wide from flipper to flipper.
    • On average, the freshwater turtle species Stupendemys was even larger, with an estimated average carapace length of 3.3 metres (11 feet) and an even greater width. A "stupendous" turtle, indeed!
  • The largest living turtle is no less incredible. The Leatherback Sea Turtle holds a number of records, including being the largest living turtle, the most widespread reptile and surprisingly enough, the fastest reptile. That's right, the fastest reptile is a turtle (in the water of course).
    • Its also notable that the largest shelled freshwater turtle is the alligator snapping turtle, which typically averages around 2ft(60cm) and 165lbs(75kg)- the catch being they never stop growing over the course of their life. Confirmed specimens top 4 feet(1.2 meters) and 249 lbs(113 kg), and an unconfirmed specimen in 1937 reportedly weighed in at 403 lbs(183 kg), which would be about 6ft(1.8m) of extremely irritable turtle. These animals are the reason that hand-catching catfish ("noodling") is illegal in many areas- these apex predators tend to react predictably when someone sticks a hand into the wrong burrow.
      • Snapping Turtles are said to have the second strongest jaws in the animal kingdom, right after crocodilians of course.
      • and giant soft-shell turtles are even deadlier. They get even larger (up to five hundred pounds), have a projectile neck, swim faster than many fish, and are among the most aggressive carnivorous reptiles.
  • Turtles can live without eating for a ridiculous long time. Many species in temperate zones don't really hibernate, they just stop eating and move very little during the cold months. Centuries ago, giant turtles were often rounded up in islands by passing sailors, carried to the ships and left upside down for months so they couldn't move, one on top of the other, until they were killed and eaten when the crew run out of food. The turtles were never fed during the time aboard.
  • Even though turtles are reptiles and obviously don't have gills, pet sliders can spend up to 4 hours underwater without breathing air. Part of it is because of their low metabolism, part is because there are areas of their skin that are thin enough to get oxygen directly from the water and into their blood. One of the most efficient areas is around the anus.
  • Several sea turtles not only are immune to jellyfish stings, but even eat jellyfish (or similar creatures) as part of their diets. Considering the many, many nasty things jellyfish stings can do to you (such as never-ending agony or instant death), this is a good thing.