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Franchise / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Any time, any place, these turtle boys are set to raise some serious shell, dude!note 

"Man, I LOVE being a Turtle!!!"

The Heroes in a Half-Shell. The Green Dudes with Attitudes. The World's Most Fearsome Fighting Team.


Indie comic book turned multimedia empire, starring the eponymous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or TMNT) started as a parody. In fact, the entire premise is built around the question of what happened to the radioactive canister which gave Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil) his superpowers. The original comic was at first largely an affectionate riff on Frank Miller’s ninja-tastic reinvention of Daredevil in the 1980s,note  mixed with just a little of the other most popular thing on the shelves — teenage mutants.

Aspiring comic creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, founders of "Mirage Studios" (so named because it didn't actually exist yet), came up with the concept one night after work, sketching their increasingly goofy ideas. The paradox of supposedly slow and cumbersome creatures being such stealthy, deadly warriors proved irresistible.

The resulting one-shot (ha) comic revolved around four titular turtles named after Renaissance artists — Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelonote  and Donatello — battling the ninja crimelord Oroku Saki, better known as "The Shredder", and his Foot Clan. The Turtles were trained by Master Splinter, a mutant rat, to avenge the murder of his owner Hamato Yoshi, a fugitive Foot member.

The original comic also recounts their origins through flashback. Once normal pet shop baby turtles, their aquarium was smashed by a metal canister which had flown from a van.note  The baby turtles and the canister fell into the sewers where Splinter, still a regular rat, came across them. They were all covered in a strange chemical ooze from the canister, which led to them growing in size and intelligence and developing anthropomorphic appearances.

A surprise hit (credited to the bizarre name), later stories applied a Fantasy Kitchen Sink approach, with time travel, robots, and aliens introduced within the first ten issues. The series became so popular in the indie comics scene that it spawned a bunch of imitators and branched out into merchandising with T-shirts, figurines and the like. But the Turtles finally broke from Cult Classic status to mainstream success when an action figure deal was struck with Playmates Toys, and an animated series was created to accompany the toyline. The show became one of the most popular animated series of all time, which in turn led to movies, games, and every type of merchandise under the sun, turning TMNT into one of the biggest cash cow franchises of the mid-eighties/early nineties and one of the most iconic brands in pop culture.

The major incarnations of the franchise are as follows:

Comic Books

  • The Mirage Comics (1984-1993, 2001-2010): Stories featuring the original incarnation of the turtles. These are notable for its semi-real time storytelling (stories written after 2001 featured the turtles in their thirties); its lack of a consistent Rogues Gallery; and alternating between "throw-everything-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks" and "heavily focused" approaches to storytelling. This incarnation comprises Volumes 1, 2, and 4 of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book, two volumes of Tales of the TMNT, and a multitude of one-shots and mini-series.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (1988/1989-1995/1996): Shortly into its run, the first cartoon spawned its own comic book, published by Archie Comics. While it initially limited itself to adapting some of the cartoon stories, it eventually evolved into something as different from the cartoon as the cartoon was from the original comic book. This incarnation of the turtles is generally regarded favorably, with a notable contingent of fans clamoring for inclusion of its characters into future incarnations.
  • TMNT Vol. 3 (1996-1999): Published by Image Comics, this series was the official continuation of the Mirage continuity, until it was subsequently ignored by Peter Laird upon the publication of Volume 4. Mostly remembered for mutilating three out of the four turtles,note  and for a plot featuring a three-way struggle for leadership of the Foot involving Raphael, who had taken on the Shredder identity after finding his armor; Pimiko, the original Shredder's daughter; and Lady Shredder, a ninja of unknown origin dressed in the familiar armor. The series was abruptly cancelled with issue #23 with the plot unresolved, but almost 20 years later as part of their projects to republish vintage turtle comics, IDW, the current publisher of TMNT comics (see below) began a color reprint series titled TMNT: Urban Legends that brought back the original creative team to produce three more issues to conclude the series.
  • The Dreamwave Comics (2003): The second cartoon had its own spinoff comic, published by Dreamwave Productions. Written by Peter David, the first few issues retold episodes of the TV series from the perspectives of minor characters, showing what the common person would see of the turtles. It then shifted to new stories. However, unlike Adventures this comic proved to be incredibly short-lived as it was abruptly cancelled seven issues in amidst budget cuts at Dreamwave (which would collapse just over a year later).
  • The IDW Comics (2011-): The first new incarnation of the Turtles following the purchase by Nickelodeon and published by IDW Publishing, it features elements from all previous incarnations before it, as well as heavily revised origins for the familiar characters.
  • The Nick Comics (2012-2017): The third cartoon from Nickelodeon had a comic spinoff also published by IDW. The comic was launched as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures and later relaunched in 2015 as Amazing Adventures. Originally the stories explicitly took place between episodes of the TV series, but with the relaunch as Animated Adventures it was stated that the series wouldn't be beholden to strict continuity with the show. It didn't really change anything. IDW also published photo comics retelling episodes of the TV series using screen shots as art.
  • The Rise comics (2018): A tie-in to the fourth animated series. A six-issue regular series (numbered 0-5) was followed by a single three-issue mini series.

Comic Strips

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990-1997): A daily newspaper strip.

TV Shows — Animated

  • The first cartoon (1987-1996): Commonly called the "1987 series" after its premier year. Resemblances to its source material are mostly superficial. The first cartoon featuring the turtles proved even more popular than the comics (and it definitely remains the best-known TMNT incarnation among the general public), thanks to the distillation/flanderization of the four turtles to easily identifiable character types; the addition of villains Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady; the promotion of the Shredder from one-shot baddie to Arch-Enemy; gleeful breaking of the fourth wall; the addition of a Trademark Favorite Food (pizza) and a Character Catchphrase ("Cowabunga!", although there were others), and a general Lighter and Softer comedic bent (for instance, Hamato Yoshi isn't murdered; he instead becomes Splinter). The series ended in 1996, after ten seasons, 194 episodes, and one retool nicknamed the "Red Sky" period by fans, which attempted to make the series more dramatic in the wake of more serious cartoons like X-Men: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series. This series' incarnation of Michelangelo appeared in 1990 Crossover TV special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Legend of the Supermutants (1996): An Anime. A two-episode OVA which adapts (very freely) the Turtles into Japanese anime format, although they're mainly thinly-veiled ads for Takara's Japanese version of the Turtles toyline. Among the changes made, the turtles have the power to transform into "Super Turtles" for about three minutes, have an animal-themed armor each (like in Saint Seiya) and can fuse together to form the "Saint Turtle". Besides that, the bad guys also have transforming powers, and Shredder turns into a Dragon. For further info, visit Wikipedia or just see this video.
  • The second cartoon (2003-2009): Mirage teamed up with 4Kids in order to produce this new cartoon, this time making sure it had a closer resemblance to the comic book it was based on. Nicknamed the 2003 series, the series featured faithful adaptations of most of the comic book's stories, contained major story arcs, and straightened up the original patchwork narrative and made it more coherent. However, it also exercised its own creative license, introducing new friends and foes and perhaps most notably, playing with the Shredder's identity; by the end, multiple characters had taken the role. Surprisingly for a show produced by someone with the 2003 series' pedigree, it avoided several of the tropes associated with Saturday Morning cartoons, such as Thou Shalt Not Kill and Status Quo Is God. It ended in 2009, after six years, seven seasons, and two retools.
    • Turtles Forever (2009): Animated movie crossing over this incarnation of the Turtles with that of the first cartoon, and acting as a celebration of the franchise's 25th anniversary. It also serves as a Grand Finale for both the '03 cartoon and the franchise's pre-Nickelodeon era.
  • The third cartoon (2012-2017): CGI animated series that aired on Nickelodeon. The series uses and/or modernizes a significant amount of characters and elements from the first cartoon series, although it does utilize characters and elements from the Mirage comics and other previous incarnations. It is also the most Animesque take yet, full of Manga Effects and other Japanese visual humor. It's somewhat Younger and Hipper — the Turtles act more like adolescents and several human characters have been aged down — but it still has dark moments. Lasted five seasons.
    • Half-Shell Heroes: Blast to the Past (2015): A 2D animated TV special that aired on Nickelodeon. The special is based on the Half-Shell Heroes toyline, which features the Turtles as fully mutated children in control of their ninja skills. The special is Lighter and Softer than anything since the 1987 series in an attempt to draw in younger children.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2018-2020): Fourth cartoon and second Nickelodeon show. A 2D animated series considerably Denser and Wackier than the 2012 series. It mixes up the formula a little, like by making Raphael the leader instead of Leonardo until the last line of the show, changing most of their signature main weapons until they dramatically debut them in the finale, and having a strong mystical focus. Lasted two seasons.
  • Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2024-present): A Sequel Series to the Mutant Mayhem film, the fifth animated series and third Nickleodeon cartoon. The show will follow the brothers as they embark on their own individual adventures. The voice actors for the turtles will reprise their roles from the movie. Two seasons have been ordered.

TV Shows — Live-action


Pinball Machines

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989): An infamously difficult NES platformer from Konami.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game (1989): The first arcade Beat 'em Up, this one also from Konami. Also ported to the NES a year later.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (1990). An action platformer for the Game Boy from Konami.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (1991): Another arcade Beat 'em Up from Konami and sequel to the previous arcade game. Was also ported to the SNES in 1992.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project (1991): Another Beat 'em Up from Konami, exclusive to the NES.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Manhattan Missions (1991): A tactical platformer for MS-DOS, developed by Distinctive Software and published by Konami. Infamously confused with The Manhattan Project due to similar names.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back from the Sewers (1991): Sequel to Fall of the Foot Clan. Another Konami brawler platformer for the Game Boy.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Hyperstone Heist (1992): Sega Genesis Beat 'em Up from Konami that used elements from Turtles in Time but is not a direct port of that game.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (1993): The third Game Boy game from Konami, this one was a Metroidvania.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (1993): Three entirely different fighting games sharing the name, one for the NES, one for the Super NES, and one for the Genesis, all developed by Konami.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) (2003): A Beat 'em Up developed by Konami. One version is a 3D brawler for the Nintendo GameCube, Playstation 2, and Xbox, while the other is a completely different brawler made for the Game Boy Advance. trilogy (The first game simply used the series title, the second and third had the subtitles Battle Nexus and Mutant Nightmare respectively) and an arena Fighting Game (with the subtitle Mutant Melee), all developed by Konami. The trilogy also received versions for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS that were side-scrolling brawlers, and aside from following similar plots, had very different playstyles from their console counterparts.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus (2004): Sequel on the same systems. This one is focused on Season 2, including fighting the Triceratons, Shredder, and participating in the titular Battle Nexus tournament.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare (2005): Final brawler in the series based on the show's third season, with the Turtles facing the Triceraton invasion, the arrival of Agent Bishop, and Shredder's plan to return to the stars. Console versions were for the same systems as the other two games, but the portable version was for the Nintendo DS.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Melee (2005): Arena fighter released at the same time as Mutant Nightmare and based on the 2003 series.
  • TMNT (2007): A tie-in game for the 2007 movie from Ubisoft. The console versions were 3D action-adventure games, while the Game Boy Advance version was a side-scrolling Beat 'em Up similar to the old Konami titles.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up (2009): Platform Fighter from Ubisoft and Game Arts, which combined elements from several different incarnations; the cut scenes were drawn by longtime Mirage comic artist Jim Lawson, the voices were provided by the cast of the 2003 cartoon, and the in-game models were taken from the 2007 film. Also infamous for featuring a crossover with Ubisoft's Raving Rabbids by means of three Guest Fighters.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled (2009): Ubisoft's remake of Turtles in Time using polygon models instead of sprites and featuring the voice cast of the 2003 series.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Attack (2009): A side-scolling Beat 'em Up from Ubisoft for the Nintendo DS. Cutscenes are designed after the first issue of the original comic, but the in-game models are from the 2003 cartoon.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ninja Tribunal and Shredder Reborn (2009): A two-part mobile RPG title from 4mobile based on Season 5 of the 2003 series.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2013): Activision game in the style of a classic arcade Beat 'Em Up, set in a self-contained continuity.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2013): Based on the 2012 series, and aimed at a slightly younger demographic than Out of the Shadows. Also made by Activision.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run (2013): Mobile endless runner based on the 2012 show. Developed by Nickelodeon Interactive.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014): A tie-in game from Activision for the 2014 movie for the Nintendo 3DS, iOS, and Android systems. The plot is based on the original cut that had Eric Sacks as the Shredder.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Training Lair (2014): Made for the Xbox 360 Kinect from Float Hybrid and Krome Studios.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Danger of the Ooze (2014): A Metroidvania game developed by WayForward Technologies and a sequel to the 2013 game based on the 2012 series.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Battle Match (2015): A Match-Three Game from Tiny Castle Studios based on the 2012 show.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Portal Power (2016): Action-Adventure game from Red Fly Studio for mobile devices and based on the 2012 cartoon. Ported to Steam in 2017.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants In Manhattan (2016): An action game developed by PlatinumGames and published by Activision, based mostly on the IDW continuity.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Legends (2016): Mobile RPG game from Ludia based on the 2012 show, but also featured characters from the 1987 cartoon, 2014 movie, and original comics.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2017): Arcade Beat 'em Up again based on the 2012 show, this time by Raw Thrills. Later released to consoles and PCs in 2024 as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ninja Run (2018): Nickelodeon-developed endless runner for mobile.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Madness (2020): Mobile title from Synapse based on the 1987 show, though including characters from the 2003 and 2012 cartoons in the '87 cartoon style.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (2022): A Beat 'em Up in the 2D style of Konami's arcade installments and based on the 1987 series. Developed by Tribute Gamesnote  and published by DotEmu.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection (2022): A Compilation Re-release of all the Arcade, NES, Game Boy, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis games developed by Konami through emulation provided by Digital Eclipse, with the various ports and different editions included as separate titles.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin (TBD): An Action RPG adaptation of the comic miniseries of the same name. Currently under development by Black Forest Games and planned to be published by THQ Nordic.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wrath of the Mutants (2024): A Beat 'em Up inspired by Turtles in Time and taking place in 2012 show's universe. Developed by Raw Thrills and Cradle Games, published by GameMill Entertainment.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate (2024): A roguelike co-op action brawler taking place in IDW contiunity. Currently under development by Super Evil Megacorp.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants Unleashed (TBD): A project based on Mutant Mayhem continuity. Currently under development by A Heartful of Games and planned to be published by Outright Games.

  • Nickelodeon Massive Multiplayer Crossover appearances:
    • Nickelodeon Super Brawl series (2012-2020): A series of Fighting Games hosted on the Nickelodeon website. The series featured the 2012 Turtles and Shredder in Super Brawl 3, just the 2012 Turtles in Super Brawl 4 and Super Brawl World, and the Rise Turtles in the mobile-based Super Brawl Universe.
    • Ultimate Hero Clash (2016): Fighting Game crossover with Power Rangers (which was broadcast on Nick at the time), featuring the 2012 team facing off against various past Rangers.
    • Ultimate Hero Clash 2 (2017): Sequel to the above, but this time the Turtles only face off against the Ninja Steel Rangers.
    • Nickelodeon Kart Racers (2018): A Mascot Racer featuring various Nicktoons characters. The 2012 Ninja Turtles appear as playable characters.
    • Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix (2020): Sequel to the above, this time with Shredder joining the Turtles.
    • Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl (2021): A Platform Fighter featuring various Nicktoons characters. The 1987 versions of Leonardo, Michelangelo, and April appear as playable characters. The 1987 version of Shredder was added as a free DLC character in February 2022.
    • Nickelodeon Extreme Tennis (2022): A tennis game on Apple Arcade featuring various Nicktoons characters. The 1987 version of Michelangelo appears as a playable character.
    • Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway (2022): The third entry in the Kart Racers series. The 1987 Ninja Turtles and April appear as playable characters in the base game. The Mirage version of Raphael appears as a DLC character in the Turbo Edition DLC pack.
    • Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 (2023): 1987 April returns from the first game, with Donatello and Raphael being added as new fighters, Rocksteady appearing as a DLC fighter, and Shredder demoted to a NPC boss in the single-player campaign mode.

  • Guest Fighter appearances:
    • World of Tanks (2010): Four tank skins themed after the 1987 Party Wagon, the Technodrome, Bebop and Rocksteady, and Shredder, as well as the 1987 Ninja Turtles, April, Splinter, Shredder, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady as crew members, and various themed cosmetics, were added in a Temporary Online Content Rewards Pass running from March to June 2024.
    • Jetpack Joyride (2011): The Ninja Turtles and 1987 April appear as Temporary Online Content skins for the player character, as well as a Mouser skin for the Lil' Stomper vehicle, in September-October 2021.
    • Smite (2014): The Ninja Turtles, Splinter, Shredder, Krang and Slash appear as skins for eight playable characters starting from November 2020.
    • Brawlhalla (2014): The Ninja Turtles appear as skins for four playable characters, added in June 2021.
    • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 (2015): The Ninja Turtles appear as playable characters added in a November 2015 update.
    • Injustice 2 (2017): The Ninja Turtles appear as the game's final DLC characters, released on February 2018.
    • Fortnite (2017): The Ninja Turtles and April were added as outfits alongside various themed cosmetics on December 14, 2023. Later on, Splinter, Shredder and Super Shredder were added as skins during the Cowabunga Temporary Online Content event on February 9, 2024.
    • Stumble Guys (2020): The 2024 May Stumble pass added content including skins based on turtles along with Master Splinter, as well as foes Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady along with a "Turtle Tumble" racing map.
    • Street Fighter Duel (2020): The Ninja Turtles were added as Temporary Online Content playable characters, with Leonardo and Michelangelo released on April 17, 2024, followed by Raphael and Donatello on May 15, 2024.
    • Madden NFL 22 (2021): Ninja Turtles-themed cosmetics were added (alongside other Nickelodeon IPs) for "The Yard" mode in January 2022, as part of an advertising build-up for Nick's second simulcast of a NFL playoff game.
    • Hot Wheels Unleashed (2021): The 1987 Party Wagon appears as a base game car. The real-life Hot Wheels Ninja Turtles "character car" Thememobile toys were added as DLC cars from November 2021 to June 2022.
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II & Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 (2022): Shredder was added as an operator skin on 21 March, 2023.
    • Street Fighter 6 (2023): The Ninja Turtles were added as paid Avatar costumes in the Battle Hub alongside various themed cosmetics on August 8, 2023.

Other media franchises:

  • Lots and lots of food tie-ins (Ninja Turtles cereal, Chef Boyardee TMNT pasta, Ninja Turtles cookies, etc.)

TMNT remains a pop-culture phenomenon to this day. It inspired the entire Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats genre, and is a multimedia Cash-Cow Franchise still beloved by many fans new and old.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has the following tropes:

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    Tropes A-K 
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Frequently played straight and averted. The Turtles usually have their home in the sewer, typically in some large former work station or holding area. Even in versions where they aren't living in the sewer, per se, they still use the sewer to get around and they tend to be extremely large anyway.
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: The turtles walk around in everyday life clothes-less except for their ninja masks, belts, and generally some form of padding/supportive bandages on their joints/hands and feet.
  • Action Figure File Card: Most of the toys in the original line have had them.
  • Action Girl:
    • April O'Neil, mostly from the 2003 series onward. Typically, she tends to become a pupil of Master Splinter and later on joins the Turtles in fighting enemies.
    • Karai. She is the Shredder's adopted daughter and is usually depicted as being just as skilled a fighter as him.
    • Ninjara in the Archie series.
    • Jennika, Alopex, and Angel/Nobody from the IDW comics.
    • Aska from Tournament Fighters as well as Mitsu, her inspiration, from the third live-action movie.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • Most of the video games and merchandise released in the 80's and 90's were based on the original cartoon. However, many of the cover art or promotional images used art similar to the comics, which made the Turtles much angrier or pissed off than in the cartoon. The NES version of the original arcade game is the only console game to actually use the cartoon's designs and have them smiling. The games themselves downplayed this, but still almost exclusively showed the Turtles scowling (assuming it showed their mouths at all) outside of Back from the Sewers for Game Boy.
    • The initial toyline wasn't that different from the first season of the cartoon, where the Turtles tended to be a lot more understated or serious, but even after the cartoon went into full-on sillyness, the Turtles figures themselves still had the standard scowls and gritting teeth the original toys did, even including the pupil-less eyes.
    • While many pieces of merchandise used stock art from the cartoon, many other pieces, such as posters or books, used the cartoon designs in the comic art style, making them angry or serious, even Mikey.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The 2003 series and the fourth movie. The first movie successfully blends the original comics and cartoon into a coherent whole.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • The characters are reinterpreted in every retelling, especially Michelangelo and Raphael. They typically fit the same archetype, but express it in different ways.
      • Michelangelo is usually the comic relief, but his approach to the role varies: In the Mirage Comics he's a laid-back Nice Guy, in the 1987 cartoon he's a Surfer Dude, in the original film series he's a Motor Mouth jokester, in the 2003 cartoon he's a prankster and a Gadfly, and in the 2012 cartoon he's an outlandish Cloudcuckoolander. Though in Rise, his tendency to joke around has been downplayed, given partially to Leo; to compensate, the show puts more focus on his artistic talents and high empathy.
      • Raphael is always the team rebel, but again his method of rebelling varies from incarnation to incarnation: In the Mirage comics he's a violent and sometimes unstable berserker, in the 1987 cartoon he's a wisecracking slacker, in the original film series he's a brooding loner with a huge temper, in the 2003 cartoon he's gruff and standoffish, in the 2012 cartoon he's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a Hair-Trigger Temper, and in Rise, where he's the eldest, he still has a temper but is an Adaptational Nice Guy Bruiser with a Soft Center.
    • All four Turtles were flanderized in the 1987 series, except for Leonardo, who was only mildly flanderized. Donatello went from being intellectual to being a Gadgeteer Genius, Michelangelo went from being mostly laidback to being a surfer dude obsessed with pizza, and most egregiously, Raphael went from being dark and violent to being snarky and constantly breaking the fourth wall.
    • In Rise, Leonardo has become Brilliant, but Lazy, and Donatello is even more of a Deadpan Snarker than usual, as well as a Mad Scientist.
  • Adaptation Species Change:
    • Shredder was changed to a Utrom (an alien in a robot suit) in the 2003 series.
    • Splinter is always depicted as a mutant rat, but sometimes (like in the first, third, and fourth cartoons), he started as a human. Other times (like in the Mirage comics, the 1990s film, and the second cartoon), he started as a pet rat.
    • Rise goes the extra mile and makes all four Turtles different species of turtle, rather than having them all be literal brothers.
  • Aerith and Bob: When the turtles are addressed by their nicknames, Leo, Don/Donnie, and Mikey/Mike are all fairly common, and then you have Raphael's nickname, Raph.
    • For full names, Leonardo is fairly common in Italy and still used in other countries, Raphael is exotic but not unheard of, and then you have Donatello and Michelangelo.
  • Age Lift: In the original comics, Oroku Saki was appointed leadership of the New York branch of the Foot Clan when he was eighteen and within a year built it into a force to be reckoned with, at which point he would have been nineteen. According to Splinter in the first issue of the first volume, it had been fifteen years since Saki had murdered Hamato Yoshi and Tang Shen, telling us that Saki is thirty-four at least by the time of the present day. Oroku Saki is typically portrayed as older, of Hamato Yoshi's generation, when in the comics his elder brother Oroku Nagi was of Yoshi's generation.
  • Alien Among Us: The Utroms, initially. Some continuities have them becoming public and assisting humanity. Fast Forward, which takes place in 2105, has Earth home to all kinds of different alien species.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Played straight and averted in the same page of the original series.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Several times, across incarnations more faithful to the original comic books, the attack on April's shop being the quintessential example.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: The Justice Force and its members, to varying degrees.
  • Alternate Continuity: Turtles Forever revealed all TMNT media exist in its own universe. The 2012 cartoon followed this up by having the Turtles seeing the 1987 animation as an alternate universe!
  • Alternate Universe: In addition to the above, the 2012 cartoon depicted different versions of the 1987 and Mirage Turtles than Forever did. Word of God stated that the Forever ones were still canon, but different universes than the ones that appeared in 2012.
  • Amphibian at Large/Amphibian Assault: In both the first cartoon and the 2012 Nickelodeon series, the Punk Frogs are introduced as Psycho Rangers to the Turtles before pulling a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Animal Nemesis: The feud between Oroku Nagi and Hamato Yoshi is taken up by Nagi's brother and Yoshi's pet rat, and the Turtles themselves when they mutate.
  • Animal Superheroes: One of the most triumphant examples, who got many follow-ups.
  • Animal-Themed Fighting Style: Inverted in the original Mirage Comics - Splinter was the pet rat of ninjitsu master Hamato Yoshi. Splinter learned martial arts from Yoshi by mimicking his movements.
  • Another Dimension: A whole lot of them, most notably Dimension X in two continuities.
  • Anthropomorphic Transformation: The titular reptiles started out as ordinary pet store turtles that were mutated by a chemical that turned them human-sized and anthropomorphic. In some continuities, their mentor Splinter started out as a normal rat who was mutated with the turtles. Whether other mutants started out as animals or not can depend on the continuity as well.
  • The Anticipator: Master Splinter usually plays this role in the show, as he is very wise and skilled. And a ninja, of course.
  • Art Initiates Life: Kirby's crystal in the 2003 show allowed him to do this.
  • The Artifact:
    • As the series became more kid-friendly it became fairly impossible to show Leonardo and Raphael slicing and dicing their non-robotic foes, as that would be bloody and gruesome. However, their weapons of katanas and sais are so iconic to them that they could never get rid of them. Thus, more often than not, and particularly in the movies (which feature no robots) they'll just be seen fighting with their bare hands — their more effective weapons strapped to them untouched or quickly knocked away.
    • The title itself became this as the Turtles continued to age in the comics well into their thirties.
  • Ascended Extra: The Shredder died in the first ever Mirage issue, but he was promoted to the Turtles' arch-enemy in most other versions. The Foot tried bringing him back, but it didn't stick.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Hamato Yoshi's surname (Hamato) doesn't exist in real Japanese. The Japanese dub of the 1987 cartoon called him "Yoshihama Takeshi" instead. Similarly, Oroku Saki's given name (Saki) is real but feminine. Thus the Japanese dub and the Legend of the Supermutants OVA called him "Oroku Sawaki."
  • Audience Shift: While the franchise was originally conceived as an indie comic for adults, the large majority of the media inspired by it tend to be aimed at children. These family-friendly versions usually have their own comic continuities.
  • Author Appeal: Jack Kirby and the cosmic themes of his work are often referenced in the various continuities, with at least one story in the Mirage Comics that was adapted as an episode for the 2003 series even featuring a thinly-veiled version of Jack Kirby. The adaptation was itself dedicated to his memory.
  • Avenging the Villain:
    • The basis of the Foot's vendetta against the turtles, after The Shredder's death in the comic books. In the 2003 series, this becomes Karai's motivation during the fourth season, after The Shredder (here her adoptive father) is exiled to an icy asteroid.
    • Also the Shredder's motivation in the original comics. Oroku Nagi obviously wasn't a very nice guy to be beating Tang Shen for choosing Hamato Yoshi over him, but Yoshi was probably going overboard by slaying Nagi in return. Oroku Saki's goal was to avenge his brother's death.
  • Badass Bookworm: Donatello, the one who builds machines. Leonardo is a downplayed one in certain continuities.
  • Badass Pacifist: Donatello is known as the least violent of the four turtles and would rather use his intellect to solve conflict than his fighting skills. However, he is VERY competent in his fighting when it is needed.
  • Badbutt: Nearly as iconic to the heroes as Totally Radical is their application of Unusual Euphemism, at least in the 1987 series. "What the shell" is one of the most uttered phrases in the 2003 series; at least as often as "Cowabunga" in the 1987 series.
  • Beauty to Beast: April, when turned into a fish mutant. And the time she was made a cat mutant. And then there was the time in the Archie comics when she became a mutant turtle herself! Luckily, each time she was mutated, she was cured by the end of each story.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Turtles have lived in sewers and on subway platforms from time to time.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Let's just say that you would want to stay on the good side of Michelangelo and Donatello.
  • Big Applesauce: New York is the primary setting for all incarnations, except for the Supermutants OAV.
  • Big Bad: Although the different incarnations may have their own individual Big Bads, The Shredder is the most traditional and consistent foe the turtles come across.
  • Big Brother Instinct: The turtles all fall under this trope at one time or another, in all the various incarnations. It has also applied to Casey and April.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Shredder, up to eleven depending on the continuity.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • The original comics definitely averted this, especially once the Turtles themselves became mutilated.
    • Played straight in every TV adaptation. Taken to extreme levels in the 2003 cartoon, where Leonardo will slash his swords against the bad guy, who will fall over defeated, but no blood or even cuts are shown.
    • The 1990 movie played with this, as Shredder was visibly bleeding after being slashed by Leonardo's sword. Played straight with the two movies afterwards.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Shredder's Elite Guard, which takes different forms in the various works, are typically individually just as skilled as the Turtles.
  • Bumbling Henchmen Duo: Bebop and Rocksteady are a pair of incompetent goons working for the Shredder, originating in the 1987 series. Tohka and Rahzar take this spot in the original film series, while Dogpound and Fishface take the role in the 2012 show.
  • Canon Foreigner: Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, Venus de Milo, Tatsu, Tokka, Rahzar, and many more.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Archie Comics to Mirage: Cudley the Cowlick
    • 2003 series to Mirage: Foot Mystics, The Battle Nexus, Hun, Bishop, and Shredder's armor.
    • First Film to Mirage: Charles Pennington
    • Any of them to IDW Comics: If they've made a significant impact on any version of the Turtles, odds are they're in it.
  • Cephalothorax: Krang, after being stripped of his body when he was banished from Dimension X. Shredder designed and built a humanoid exo-suit for him when they teamed up.
  • Central Theme: Brotherhood and strength in unity.
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • 1987 series: "Cowabunga!," "Go green machine!," and "Turtle power!"
    • Films: "God, I love being a turtle!!
    • 2003 series: "It's ninja time!" (Fast Forward only), "Goongala!" (Casey), "None of you will leave here alive!" (The Shredder), and "Oh, crud." (Hun)
    • 2012 series: "Booyakasha!" (Mikey)
    • Rise "Hot soup!" (Raph, Splinter), and a return of "Cowabunga!"
  • Character Select Forcing: A few video games, be it due to combat (the original Nintendo Hard game, where Donatello was the only one with a decent range) or abilities (the Game Boy Advance version of Battle Nexus had some crystals accessible only by certain turtles).
  • City of Adventure: New York City, as well as Northampton, MA in the Mirage comics and 2003 series.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Since the original comic was in black and white, there wasn't much of this to begin with as each turtle was identified by their signature weapon. Even the special colored issues had the bandana masks they wear all red. The original cartoon gave the turtles different color bandannas (which have since been used in every successive incarnation) and the action figures, different skin colors (ignored until the 2003 cartoon).
    • The Archie comic series Lampshaded this with a Truth in Television flashback story about the pre-teenaged Turtles all wearing red headbands and Splinter having difficulty telling them apart until they decide on color coding their masks a la Donald Duck's nephews. This crosses into Only Six Faces.
    • The newspaper strip, as it was also in black and white, took a page from the 1987 cartoon and the turtles here have their initials on their belts instead.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: SUBVERTED, of all things, in the first movie and the 2003 series. The Foot have got a lot of mileage out of sending wave after wave of Mooks after the Turtles (Raphael in the 1990 movie, Leonardo in the Comics and 2003 series) and whooping their asses.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The turtles' way of staying hidden in the 1987 cartoon and first movie. On the other hand, this IS New York, where nobody looks at anybody else, so, fair enough.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The dimension of the original Mirage Comics for the Multiverse in "Turtles Forever."
  • Crossover:
    • Most frequent is Miyamoto Usagi of Usagi Yojimbo, who has appeared in the Mirage comics, the 1987 series and the 2003 series; the Turtles have also made the occasional appearance in the Usagi Yojimbo comic books.
    • Turtles Forever, a crossover between the 2003 series and 1987 series. Did we mention the Mirage comics?
    • Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue features 1987 Mikey among many other toons.
    • The Next Mutation guest starred in the Power Rangers in Space episode "Shell Shocked."note 
    • The Raving Rabbidsnote  in the Smash-Up video game. They immediately became new Scrappies for the TMNT fandom.
    • There was a crossover with Planet Racers, another comic created by Peter Laird, in an episode of the 2003 series.
    • Because the brainchild of Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa did some of the issues of the original comic series, Cowlorado Kid, Moo Montana, and Dakota Dude appeared in some of the Tales of the TMNT issues and made non-speaking roles in an episode in the 2003 cartoon.
    • Due to IDW owning the rights for TMNT comics as of 2011, the Turtles have also become recurring characters in IDW's yearly Massive Multiplayer Cross Throughs, having appeared in 2012's Infestation 2 against the Cthulhu Mythos and in 2014's The X-Files: Conspiracy. No, the Turtles don't get to meet Mulder and Scully (though Mulder does get a one-panel cameo), but they do tangle up with Mulder's buddies The Lone Gunmen and the vampires from the X-Files episode "Bad Blood."
    • Since it's now a Nickelodeon property, the TMNT have made appearances in online games with other Nick stars, both cartoon and live-action. Funnily enough, they once again crossover with the Power Rangers and the Rabbids. They would also be in Nick's Kart Racer and All-Star Brawl console games.
    • The original comic series also crossed over with Cerebus the Aardvark; the most recent IDW version crossed over with the goddamn Batman (which would be adapted into a direct-to-video movie), while another series had them teaming up with the Power Rangers again, albeit this time the Mighty Morphin team.
    • The original toyline also had a wave where the Turtles became Starfleet officers. More recent toylines have had special crossovers with franchises such as Universal Horror, Cobra Kai, and Stranger Things.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Michelangelo, in every incarnation, is the usually the goofball/slacker/fun-loving guy of the group, but when it comes down to having an actual don't really wanna be on the receiving end.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Repeatedly subverted by Baxter Stockman. In the Mirage comics, after making a large legitimate fortune with his Mouser robots, he then proceeds to use them to commit terrorism for kicks. In the 1987 series, he tried using them legitimately but was rejected by every pest control company in town. In the 2003 series, he makes a huge legitimate fortune with them, and then starts using them to rob banks simply because he's a greedy bastard.
  • Cycle of Revenge: One of the most important themes in the original Mirage books.
  • Damsel in Distress: April O'Neil always, though taken up to eleven in the first cartoon where the turtles can recognize her by her "mmphing".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Being teenagers, all four of them usually do it at some point, but Raphael is the one that's known for it the most. Master Splinter also has his dry humor moments. Casey also gets his fair share in, especially in the original film series.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Venus de Milo, who fit in as an Action Girl in Next Mutation since it didn't feature April as a character.
  • Distinctive Appearances: The original comics run had the turtles effectively defined by their signature weapon and nothing else, being they were in black and white. Even early color issues had them all with red bandannas, only after a few years did they get their distinctive colors. Various incarnations continue to play with tricks to make them stand out from each other: Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation played with the styling of the belts and bandannas (with Michelangelo having frayed edges and Donatello having a full cap), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) gave them all slightly different green skin pigments, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) did some more subtle things like Donatello's chipped tooth and giving them more unique designs, while Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would make all four of them completely different species, with different designs to match.
  • Ditto Aliens: The Utroms; Triceratons.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: In Issue #1, the turtles were barely distinguishable from each other, each with a similar personality, though Leonardo and Raphael show a few hints of some, but the turtles were defined by the fact they're a parody of Frank Miller-style writing. Later installments started adding personality to all four of the turtles, with the adaptations adding colored bandanas to help recognize them without their weapons. Rise takes it even further by giving the Turtles their own body-types, allowing you to distinguish them from each other without the weapons or bandanas.
  • Dual Wielding: Three of the four turtles use their weapons in pairs, with Donny being the odd man out. Though since his weapon is a bo staff, it's justified (although his original action figure did come with a pair of bo).
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Splinter and the Turtles not treating or addressing each other as father and sons respectively in older works feels pretty alien now, given that pretty much every major fiction for the past few decades has the five explicitly considering each other family even though they're not blood. Lampshaded in Turtles Forever, where the '87 Turtles are surprised to see that their 2003 counterparts explicitly call Splinter "father" and he calls them "my sons."
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The turtles' lair is usually one of these.
  • Emerald Power: No matter how different the turtles' designs are, their skin will always be some shade of green. In addition, whatever vehicles the group has will most likely have green as a major color.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: TMNT just wouldn't be the same if this trope were non-existent.
  • Environment-Specific Action Figure: The original toyline was one of the more blatant examples. There were waves of toys with the Turtles as cavemen, clowns, monsters from Universal Horror, samurai, with Powered Armor, and even as Starfleet officers. The toylines for the other cartoons also had their fair share of these, but none of them ever went as bizarre as the original toyline did.
  • Every Japanese Sword is a Katana: Occurs with every ninja-to in the series.
    • Except for Leo's swords in the 2003 series (even though everyone still calls them katana), or the 2007 CGI movie, one might point out...
      • In the live-action movies, Leo is obviously wielding ninjato.
      • The RPG makes a point of defining Leo's swords as a daisho, a set of katana and wakizashi.
  • Every Pizza Is Pepperoni: Pizza is the main cast's Trademark Favorite Food, but it is always pepperoni pizza that they are shown eating.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Occurs after the Shredder is defeated at the end of the Return to New York arc in the Mirage comic books and in the second cartoon.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: In all of their incarnations except the Michael Bayverse, the turtles are seldom seen wearing anything besides their bandanas, belts, knee/elbow pads, wristbands, and weapons, unless it's part of a disguise.
  • Expository Theme Tune: "Splinter taught them to be ninja teens!" "He's a radical rat!" The intro for Seasons 1-4 of the 2012 show would echo it.
  • Expy: The Ninja Turtles were originally a parody of Daredevil. Splinter was a stand-in for Daredevil's mentor Stick, while the Foot Clan was a parody of the Hand, a secret group of ninjas fought by Daredevil.
  • Faceless Goons: The Foot Clan are the most triumphant example, as they always wear full cowls with tinted eye holes and bandanas. Some continuities have other versions, but the Foot Clan is always the most prominent.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Prevalent through all incarnations of the series, to varying degrees. There's also quite a bit of overlap between the disparate fantastic elements.
  • Far East Asian Terrorists: The Foot Clan engages in terrorism at several points in the franchise. The 2014 movie portrays them as Western Terrorists, however.
  • Final Exchange: In Season 5 of the 2003 cartoon, when a spirit form of Hamato Yoshi defeats the demon form of the Shredder.
    Shredder: I will fight you to the last breath!
    Yoshi: Your dragon form was your last breath. [performs One-Hit KO]
  • Fish People: Mona Lisa's nemesis, Captain Filch, has minions who fit this trope in the original series episode "Raphael Meets His Match." The fish people from "Sons of the Silent Age" also qualify.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Most series have a Halloween episode where the Turtles do this.
  • Faint in Shock:
    • In nearly every version, April O'Neil does this on her first sight of the turtles, whereupon they pick her up and take her home. In a possible Running Gag, Michelangelo asks "Can we keep her?" in both the first movie and the second series just after she faints.
      • In the first movie, April did not faint upon seeing the Turtles for the first time — her unconsciousness was due to being attacked by the Foot Clan before they got their ever-loving asses kicked by Raph. When she woke up in the sewer den, she freaked out instead, which ended up freaking the Turtles out as well.
    • Splinter elicited a fainting reaction from Keno and Kenshin in the second and third movies, the latter being lampshaded.
      Donatello: You sure have a strange effect on people, don't you, Master?
      Splinter: Hmmmm... out cold.
  • For the Evulz: In the original comics, April asks Baxter Stockman why he is using his Mousers to hold the city for ransom when he has already made a vast fortune with them. He answers that it's fun!
  • The Future: Plays a significant part in several incarnations, particularly in the Mirage and Archie comics, which had several stories starring future versions of the turtles, and the second cartoon, whose setting for the entire sixth season was the year 2105.
  • Generican Empire: The Federation, especially in the 2003 version, takes a lot after the American military.
  • Genius Bruiser: Leatherhead in the 2003 and 2012 incarnations.
  • Genre Savvy: Michelangelo, with his vast knowledge of pop culture, usually is the one to reference how something they're dealing with is similar to a movie, TV show, or video game he knows about.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Averted all to hell in the 2003 series. Both The Federation (humanoids) and The Republic (Triceratons) are pretty nasty.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: D.A.R.P.A. in the Mirage comic books and its animated counterpart, the Earth Protection Force.
  • Grand Finale: "Divide and Conquer" for the 1987 series, Turtles Forever for the 2003 cartoon and the franchise's pre-Nick days, "The Big Blowout" for the 2012 cartoon, "Rise" for, well, Rise.
  • Have You Come to Gloat?: Happened in the comic. The turtles were being held prisoner by a crazed whaler who was essentially a Japanese Captain Ahab. When his first mate visits them in the brig, they start cursing at him and one of them shouts "Come to gloat?" Subverted in that the whaler has actually come down to free them.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity:
    • In the 80's cartoon, the turtles were once framed for a crime they didn't commit and nobody believes them, not even April and they have to prove themselves innocent.
    • Whenever the 2003 turtles are seen by humans, said humans usually end up running away screaming. Notable occasions are when Raph returned a lady's purse, only to be told to stay away from her, and Mikey's failed attempts at being a hero, as he's either given no thanks or mistaken for the perpetrator. In Season 4, Bishop creates a fake alien invasion to trick the President into thinking his organization doesn't deserve to lose all their funding, and afterwards, a news report depicts the turtles as malicious aliens.
    • In the 2007 movie, Nightwatcher AKA Raph was either feared or despised for fighting crime and when Leo discovers his secret identity, he gets called out for risking the safety of his keeping his family's existence a secret.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: The turtles, of course. There are other ninjas present too (some of the Shredder's minions for an example) who stand out from the crowd. Many continuities also have April eventually become one of these.
    • In the Turtles' defense, it's not like they chose to look so recognizable, what with not even being humans to begin with. In fact, in many versions, that's the very reason Splinter trained them to begin with: so they could make up for their appearance and avoid persecution from humans by being stealthy and constantly hiding in the shadow.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • A trait seen in most incarnations of Leonardo. It goes both ways though- either he is commended or, if something goes horribly wrong, grievously injured.
    • Also Karai, whose loyalty to the Shredder conflicts with her strong sense of honorable behavior.
  • Human Aliens: A large part of the Federation, including most of its army.
  • Identically Powered Team: Downplayed as there are other aspects that differentiate them, such as weapon choice, but by virtue of them all being turtles, they have the same extranormal abilities (swimming, limb retraction, etc.).
  • If I Can't Have You…: The reason why Oroku Nagi beats on Tang Shen in the original comics, and why Oroku Saki and Yukio Mashimi kill her in the movie and the 2003 series, respectively.
  • "I Hate" Song: "I Hate Music" from the Coming Out of Their Shells Tour, where Shredder sings about how he wants to get rid of music. The song's name is also ironic, as Shredder technically makes music despite hating music. It's also one of two songs that didn't appear on the tour's album, the other being "Follow Your Heart", which was sung by Michelangelo.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device:
    • The original series had the Portal Device. The Technodrome had one that connected to Dimension X, which Donatello attempted to copy, with varying levels of success.
    • The 2003 cartoon had the TransMat Device, invented by Professor Honeycutt, which both the Federation and Triceratons desperately wanted. Later on, there was the unrelated Time Scepter, which sent the Turtles into various alternate dimensions, as well as an Alternate Timeline Bad Future.
    • The Kraang had lots of these in the 2012 cartoon. It was actually the main way they kept their human slaves separate.
  • Interspecies Adoption: In every adaptation, Splinter (whether he started out as a rat or a human) adopts the four turtles and raises them as his sons. While how strict he is tends to vary, it's always obvious how much he cares about them (and vice versa).
  • Intra-Franchise Crossover:
    • Turtles Forever is a textbook example, with the Turtles from the 2003 series meeting up with the Turtles from the 1987 series. The two versions of the Turtles exist in alternate dimensions and meet each other when messing with interdimensional travel. In the end, both versions meet the original Turtles from the Mirage comics, they're presented as the prime Turtles, and erasing their existence would do the same to all the other versions.
      • Also, a computer screen in the movie shows the Multiverse, with the many dimensions populated by other versions of the Turtles like the 2007 movie, the live-action movies from the 90s, the different comics, and even the Japanese OAV. Some of the Old Shame entries are missing, however.
    • The 2012 animated series did it again, with an episode crossing over with the 1987 series with a plot similar to ‘’Turtles Forever’’, again having the original 1984 Turtles at the end. Since the 1987 series was hand-drawn but the 2012 was CGI, the episode uses Art Shift, alternating between hand-drawn animation and CGI depending on which universe the scene takes place, and converting the look of the Turtles in the process. For some reason, 1987 and 2012 Donatello stay in their original 2D and 3D forms when they enter the 1984 comic universe. They even have color when the whole comic-book world is black and white.
  • Irisless Eye Mask Of Mystery: The turtles originally had irisless eyemasks to simulate Glowing Eyes of Doom, without actually making their eyes glow. When Eastman and Laird gave the turtles visible irises? They looked cute instead, regardless of how menacing they make their faces look. The only other media to retain this look from the comics was the 2003 cartoon (except Season 7), although the 2012 show uses them whenever things get serious.
  • Kidnapped for Experimentation: Due to the heavy presence of scientists and aliens (not to mention the fact that the main characters are literal mutants), this trope happens to someone at least once per adaptation. Typically the one of the Turtles will be the victim, but sometimes Innocent Bystanders or other mutants will be the targets. This trope occurs the most often in the 2012 series, and is an important plot point in the 2014 movie.

     Tropes L-Z 
  • Legacy Character: Several people have taken on the Shredder's mantle after besides Oroku Saki, with Karai being the most popular one. One arc in the Mirage comics actually had Raphael take the mantle!
  • Lighter and Softer: Fans of any of the cartoon series (ESPECIALLY the 1987 series) who then read the original comic book rarely expect its much darker tone, and may be shocked that the turtles actually kill people.
  • Long-Runners: 30+ years and still going strong.
  • Lost in Imitation: The turtles' tails and red bandannas.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Hamato Yoshi, Tang Shen, and Oroku Nagi (or, alternatively, Oroku Saki or Yukio Mashimi, depending on the incarnation) form one of these. Also, Stainless Steve Steel, Dr. Dome, and Battling Bernice.
    • The 2012 series had one between Donnie, April, and Casey.
  • Masquerade: Most continuities start with the Turtles staying in the shadows, a secret to everyone else in New York. April, Casey, and the Shredder find out quickly enough, and the longer each show goes along, the more people know who the Turtles are. The 1987 and Rise cartoons quickly discarded this and had the Turtles openly well known and able to walk about above ground like normal.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Several, most notably The Foot Soldiers in the first animated series.
  • Medium Awareness: A regular feature of the first cartoon, especially with Michelangelo and Raphael. Lampshaded in Turtles Forever.
    Hun: "Why do you keep doing that?! Who are you talking to?! THERE'S NO ONE THERE!!!"
  • Merchandise-Driven: Didn't start this way, but it moved in this direction once the toy line became hugely successful. Ironically, it was originally intended as a slightly Darker and Edgier parody of merchandise-driven cartoon series and comics. Then the creators realized it was becoming one, and just rolled with it, and now the series has become the archetype for such franchises. It's even had a parody or two.
  • Mistaken for Aliens: Occurs to the turtles a lot, once the existence of aliens is actually made known to the general population.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: The alien Utroms used robotic exoskeletons to hide among humans while stranded on Earth. Also used by the Kraang in the 2012 cartoon.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Several incarnations of the turtles—but only when they wear their masks.
  • Mooks: Of all stripes, the most common and consistent being the Foot Ninja.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Dome, Dr. Malignus.
  • The Multiverse: Turtles Forever, a crossover between the 1987 series and 2003 series, introduces the idea that all incarnations of the franchise exist in different dimensions. Destroy the core, that being the Mirage universe, and all will cease to exist.
    • This may have been hinted at as early as the Battle Nexus arc, when the 2003 characters are said to come from Dimension 3rd Earth, implying that there are at least 2 other versions. The 2012 series confirms the multiverse by having the 2012 characters observe and interact with the 1987 cast as well, though Word of God confirms that the two 1987 universes are similar, but different dimensions.
  • Nanomachines: Used in the 2003 series to form Nano, a sentient nanomachine colony.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Foot Clan in some incarnations.
  • Ninja Brat: The turtles are this in any flashback to their childhoods.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Do we really need to explain this one? Besides the obvious, there are also robot ninjas.
  • Non-Lethal Warfare: Depending on the incarnation. The original cartoon and the second and third live-action films played it straight. The 2003 cartoon tended to employ Bloodless Carnage instead, even when it didn't make sense.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Venus de Milo has these. Most of the female mutants in the 2012 cartoon also have them.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed:
    • The 2003 series has a cyborg and an infomorph, but only villains are non-organic, for the most part. Honeycutt, an uploaded man, is a subversion.
    • In the 2012 series, it's hard to find a good guy other than the turtles and Splinter who has become a mutant, or a bad guy who stays human long.
  • Official Cosplay Gear: Every toyline includes the Turtles' bandanas as well as toys of their signature weapons.
  • Official Couple: Casey and April in various media, most notably the 2003 cartoon.
  • Old Superheroes: The original Justice Force, most prominent in the 2003 cartoon.
  • Opposites Attract: April and Casey. April is a smart, level-headed only sane woman of the crew, while Casey is often a reckless, crude brawler.
  • Papa Wolf: Splinter. Any time the Turtles are in danger, expect him to kick a lot of ass to save them. April usually gets included the longer a series goes on.
  • [Popular Saying], But...: Wise man say: Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza.
  • Portal Pool: The main method used to enter the Battle Nexus.
  • Posthumous Character: Hamato Yoshi, Tang Shen, Oroku Nagi/Yukio Mashimi, and Professor Obligado.
  • Powered Armor:
    • The future versions of the turtles wore these for an arc in the Archie comic; the same armor also showed up in an episode of the 1987 'series. Also, villains Baxter Stockman and Darius Dun have worn these on occasion.
    • Episode 2 of the Supermutants OAV gave the Turtles, Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady these, fashioned after animals and a clear knockoff of Saint Seiya or Ronin Warriors.
  • The Power of Family: It's been shown repeatedly that their familial connection to each other as brothers as well as master Splinter (their teacher/father) is their greatest strength, aside from all the weapons and ninjutsu skills.
  • Power-Upgrading Deformation: The usual effects of the Ooze are to make creatures smarter or tougher but also uglier Half Human Hybrids.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The original movie and 2003 cartoon. The movie kept things entirely street level, with the Turtles themselves the only fantastical elements, while the 2003 cartoon jettisoned a lot of the more convoluted aspects of the comics.
  • Product Placement: Justified; given that the turtle's Trademark Favorite Food is pizza, plugs from large pizza chains such as Domino's and Pizza Hut are a given.
  • The Professor: Tons: Donatello (when he's not a Teen Genius), Professor Honeycutt, Leatherhead, Glurin, Professor Obligado, Dr. Chaplin... Ironically, the one guy actually called "The Professor," from the 2003 cartoon, isn't an example.
  • Race Lift:
    • April was Ambiguously Brown in the Mirage comic, but in the cartoon and most subsequent adaptations has become a stereotypically Irish-looking woman with pale skin and red hair. Rise changed her fully into a black woman.
    • Bebop was African American in the original cartoon prior to his mutation, but a transforming action figure that switched from human to mutant forms depicted him as being white.
    • Baxter Stockman was black in the original comics, but made white in the 1987 cartoon. All other continuities kept his original ethnicity.
    • This was going to be the case for the Shredder in the 2014 movie, but last minute reshoots averted this.
  • Rat King: The Rat King tends to be depicted as having control over rats in some adaptations. In the first cartoon, he is initially capable of doing so via a flute ala The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and in later episodes he can do it psychically. In the 2003 and the 2012 cartoons, he is able to do so mentally from the start.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Raphael and Leonardo. Heck, even their headbands' colors match.
    • Also, Michelangelo and Donatello, though to a lesser extent.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Occurs with April and Casey at several points in each incarnation.
  • Rock Monster: The Rock Soldiers, AKA Stone Warriors, from Dimension X.
  • Rogues Gallery: Despite only Shredder and Krang being well-known villains of the franchise, there's a sizable roster of villains that tend to appear in every or most versions of the story. At it's core, it includes The Shredder & the Foot Clan, Krang, Baxter Stockman, Karai, Bebop & Rocksteady, The Rat King, Hun & the Purple Dragons, Agent Bishop, The Triceratons, Ch'rell, Savanti Romero, Lord Dregg, Leatherhead, Slash, Metalhead and Tokka & Rahzar.
  • Roof Hopping: How the Turtles usually got around town when not driving their van. Heavily emphasized in the 2003 cartoon, 2007 movie, and 2012 show.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The first issue of the original comic had the Turtles and Shredder have one of these. Because of this, the Turtles and Shredder having their first real confrontation on a rooftop has become a Recurring Element of the franchise. Even in entries which don't involve the Shredder, there will usually be one of these regardless.
  • Rubber Man: Joey Lastic of the Justice Force.
  • Samurai Shinobi:
    • The Shredder is supposed to be a ninja yet, wears samurai-like armor.
    • Leonardo is The Leader of the "Ninja Turtles," however, he uses a couple of katanas (a classic Samurai weapon) and follows the Bushido Code of Honour.
  • Secondary Adaptation:
    • All the Turtles video games are based on the films or cartoons, which themselves were based on the comics.
    • The films also take influence from the cartoon, making video games based on films a tertiary adaption, in a sense.
  • Secret Public Identity: Ananda of the Justice Force; her mother, Battling Bernice; "Stainless" Steve Steel, and Joey Lastic.
  • Sewer Gator: Leatherhead, in most incarnations, is an alligator who ended up in the city sewers and was exposed to the same mutagen as the turtles, resulting in him growing into Lizard Folk and becoming sapient.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Their origin story in the original comics suggests the radioactive waste that mutated them is the same stuff that gave Daredevil his powers.
    Splinter: At the last moment a young man leaped at the blind man and knocked him out of the truck's way ... a metal canister bounced out of the back of the truck and struck the young man near his eyes ... the strange canister bounced ... striking and smashing a glass jar which held four small turtles ... you four as infants!!!
    • Mikey in the 2003 show loved referencing comic books, movies, and TV shows during every single adventure.
    • The 2012 show had numerous ones to other media, particularly in the turtles' various favorite TV shows.
  • Sibling Team: One of the biggest examples. The Turtles all consider themselves brothers (even if they aren't blood-related) and the four of them almost always show up together in whatever adaptation they appear in, even crossovers.
  • Sixth Ranger: Usually April and/or Casey act as the brothers' fifth teammate; the 2012 cartoon even subtly hangs a lampshade on April by having her wear a #5 sports jersey. In Next Mutation, it was Venus de Milo.
  • Slime, Snails, and Mutant Tails: All the radioactive waste, mutant friends and foes, ooze etc.
  • Speedy Snail: Despite being anthropomorphic turtles, their characterization has much more emphasis on the Teenage and Ninja aspects. They're so good at Stealth Hi/Bye, they could give Batman a run for his money.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: These guys could give Batman a run for his money at this.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: Frequently used by the turtles. May as well be the Trope Codifier for Western media.
  • Story Arc: The original 1987 cartoon, from Season 2 onwards, did not really employ this until the "Red Sky" episodes. The 2003 and 2012 cartoons heavily employed these for most of their runs. Rise downplayed this, but grew into it as the show went on.
  • Super-Strength: Although it's never really touched upon except in a few instances, all four of the turtles are obviously stronger than most humans. Though when they start battling other mutants, technology and aliens it starts to not matter as much.
    • Brought up a little more in an episode of the 1987 show, where Michaelangelo managed to briefly become human, but lost the ability to do most of his ninja tricks, more so than can be explained by being used to a different body.
  • Tagalong Reporter: April O'Neil in the 1987 show. Either she followed the Turtles to get the latest scoop, or was already covering the event in question when the Turtles get involved.
  • Take That!: The Foot are meant to mock the villainous Hand from Marvel Comics.
  • The Syndicate: The Foot Clan. Downplayed in the 1987 cartoon, but heavily emphasized in the 1990 film and 2003 cartoon, where they had numerous background connections and outreach, always ensuring they had plenty of resources to fight the Turtles.
  • Team Kids: The four main characters, Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael are literal brothers, and surrogate sons to Team Dad Splinter. In most iterations, Mikey is The Baby of the Bunch, and Raphael is a hothead. They squabble from time to time, but they remain family and brothers, and heaven help the foe who harms any one of them.
  • Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats: Possibly the Trope Codifier.
  • Teleportation: The Utroms' Transmat and Honeycutt's Teleportal. Cudley the Cowlick can do this naturally.
  • Theme Naming: All of the turtles are named after Italian Renaissance artists, Bebop and Rocksteady are musical references, the Mutant Frogs are named after great warlords, and more.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: The one from the 1987 series is the best-known, with the 2012 theme taking after it. The 2003 cartoon didn't get one until Season 4, which is kept a variation of for the rest of the show. Season 7 even had someone shout "Roll Call!"
  • They Would Cut You Up: Employed in almost every incarnation. Hun threatens to do this to Raph early in the 2003 cartoon.
  • Third-Option Adaptation: Splinter defeating Shredder in The Movie.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The phrase used, most often by Raphael and Hun, is "Ah, crud."
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Used or averted, depending on the incarnation. The 1987 series and its spin-off comic book use it; the original comic book, movies, and 2003 series generally don't.
  • Time Police: Renet and Lord Simultaneous, who form part of a larger, if unseen, organization.
  • Title Theme Tune: All of the western cartoon themes.
  • Took A Level In Bad Ass: Bebop and Rocksteady in the IDW series. Although still idiots, they're now competent idiots, and pose a legitimate threat to the turtles. In issue 44 they almost kill Donatello.
  • Totally Radical: They live in New York City, but sound like a bunch of surfers from Southern California. (Especially Michelangelo, and sometimes—depending on the continuity—excepting Raphael.)
    • It's usually only Mikey. Raph has a Brooklyn accent in the films too, and even in the 1987 series, Mikey was the only one to sound like a surfer dude, though they all used "Cowabunga."
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything:
    • If it's not explicitly presented as Mutagenic Goo, the "ooze" that created the title characters is this: a garbage chemical mix on its way to be disposed that grants four turtle babies and a rat bipedal humanoid forms, sapience (at least in the Turtles' case; sometimes Splinter is suggested to have been far smarter than the average rat before mutation), enough physical gifts to be trained as master martial artists/weapon wielders, and in Donatello's case, near-genius level intelligence with mechanical devices. Not bad for a bunch of waste chemicals.note 
    • This fact makes a scene in the second live action film, The Secret Of The Ooze, strangely more poignant. Donatello is upset when he finds out the titular ooze's creation was just a mistake and that he had felt like that the truth would mean he and his family were 'special'. For being the smart one, he doesn't seem to realize that the fact that a bunch of chemical garbage instead of a purposely designed product made him and his family what they are makes them very special indeed.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Pizza, at least in the 1987 series and the original movie trilogy. Across their entire iterations and appearances in other media, they've mentioned it being their favorites and are seen eating plentiful amount of pies.
      • Though not necessarily true in the 2003 series, it's been alluded to several times. Especially related to Mikey.
    • Outside of the 1987 series and movies, every turtle actually has their own favorite food. Leo's is sushi (or some other appropriately Japanese food), Raphael's is cereal, Donatello's is hamburger, and Mikey's is, naturally, pizza. This just doesn't reach Trademark Favorite Food levels and is usually barely mentioned, though in the GBA classic beat 'em up style TMNT movie game, each Turtle is healed by their favorite foods.
    • The fourth film gives Splinter one: Cake.
  • True Companions: The turtles, Casey, and April form this unit, most notably in the movies and 2003 series.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Ananda to Battling Bernice (daughter/mother)
  • Vague Age:
    • Occurs with several of the characters throughout incarnations, due to a lack of specific dates or starting ages. The mutant ninja turtles are nearly always teenagers. Nearly all fans seem to agree (based on the average confirmed starting ages per post-comic continuity, if given any) that the four are fifteen, and gain a half-year per season or age in real-time (week-for-week).
    • The Mirage comics were notable in averting it. The Turtles started out as fifteen (but acted much older) and continued to age pretty much in real time until the present day where they're currently in their 40's and Splinter has since died of old age.
    • In the 2007 film the Turtles' ages are never specified, however they are supposed to be roughly 19 years old, so in this instance they did not age in real-time since the films in the 90's.
    • Averted with Rise, which specifies (and adjusts) the turtles' ages: Raph is 15, Leo and Donnie are 14, and Mikey is 13. April here is also 16, making her slightly older than the turtles.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Casey and Raph tend towards this in most continuities. Most of the time, they end up fighting when they first meet, and neither misses an opportunity to rag on the other. The 2012 series shifts this onto Casey and Donatello, though, due to the Love Triangle, while the first movie shifts it onto them only when Raphael is still in his coma.
  • Video Game Adaptation: Several games were made for TMNT starting with the NES/Famicom game and going on to this day.
  • Volleying Insults:
    • Done playfully between Casey and Raph in the Mirage comics, in a scene which was later adapted for the first movie and 2003 series.
    • The first movie even turned it into a game with actual rules, albeit with Dontallo and Casey rather than Raph. Each insult had to start with the next letter of the alphabet from the previous one.
  • Web Comics: Online fan comic/manga "MNT Gaiden"
  • Weirdness Magnets: Aliens, demons, robots, ninjas, Atlanteans, monsters, corporate executives, crazy people, members of near-extinct races and species, spirits, ghosts, psychics, alive machines, time traveling miscreants, evil AI, gangs, anthropomorphic animals, and many, many mutants.
  • Western Samurai: While technically being a ninja, Leonardo is a warrior born and raised in the sewers of New York City with katanas as his signature weapon and who follows the way of bushido and values honor.
  • Xenomorph Xerox:
    • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) episode "The Case of the Killer Pizzas", Pizza Monsters have elongated skulls and bodies similar to the Xenomorph.
    • Pizza Monsters resembling Xenomorphs appear in the games Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back from the Sewers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist.
    • The Squirrelanoids from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) are a pack of mutants that spawned when a squirrel discovered a spilt canister of mutagen. The squirrel found a homeless man and forced itself into the bum's stomach where it divided into two squirrels (a process similar to the chestburster), one of which repeated the process with Raphael. They later underwent a transformation, becoming more monstrous mutants similar in appearance to the xenomorph, including an elongated, translucent head, a second mouth hidden within its first one and a skeleton-esq exoskeleton.



The Nightwatcher

Raphael dons a vigilante persona, the Nightwatcher, who is shades of this to various criminals.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / MookHorrorShow

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