Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Go To

  • So how old are Shredder, and by extension Splinter, supposed to be? They're typically portrayed as rough equals in age (at least in the incarnations where Splinter is Hamato Yoshi) but Splinter always seems like he's in his sixties at least while Shredder is normally portrayed as fairly younger - in his fighting prime and able to take on all four turtles once. So what do you guys think are the ages they are supposed to be?
    • Rats age faster than humans do. Splinter's aging is slowed due to his mutation, but unlike the turtles he was fully mature when mutated, not juvenile. Regardless if he started out as a human or a rat his rodent DNA accelerates his aging and those fifteen years he spent training the turtles just hits him harder than it does the Shredder.
      • That was always my headcanon too, but keep in mind that originally Yoshi and Saki had no history together, it was Saki's older brother Nagi who was Yoshi's contemporary.
    • Advertisement:
    • There's some Fridge Horror to this: If Splinter's aging was slowed when he mutated, so were the Turtles. Turtles already live a long time, are they going to end up vastly outliving all their friends and family?
      • Yes. Nearly every incarnation has had stories set at least one hundred years in the future with the turtles still alive, long after their human allies are gone.
  • So in the fourth movie, Leonardo confronts Nightwatcher on the roof and demands he stop "this vigilante nonsense." Uh Leo? That guy in the hockey mask, you know, your friend Casey Jones? He's a vigilante too. Not to mention the fact that you and your brothers are hardly duly deputized agents of the law.
    • Leo, like a lot of crime fighters, don't think of themselves as vigilantes. Double Standard ? Yes. However if you look at Batman when new heroes move into Gotham without his approval or the Turtles reaction to Casey Jones it seems clear that to Leo a vigilante is someone who is engages in unnecessary roughness.
  • So where the heck do the turtles get the money necessary to convert the sewers into a decent living space? Not only that, but the fourth movie shows arcade games and a mini-skate park in their hideout. Not to mention where they got money to buy Donatello a laptop or give Michelangelo his skateboard. Seriously, where are they getting the money?
    • You do recall that there's a sequence in the fourth movie that shows they have jobs, right? You think Michelangelo was doing those parties for free?
    • Advertisement:
    • Okay, that explains their stuff in the fourth movie but what about in the cartoons and comics. Where do they get the money for Don's computer, all that pizza, or their TV.
    • I figured they might occasionally resort to the Frank Castle method: Take money and stuff off the individuals (i.e., gang members and such) they've beaten.
      • More likely it's all salvaged. They probably occasionally peek out into alleyways and whatnot and find stuff people have just dumped. Explains Donatello's tech savvy... he likely had to figure out how to fix a TV someone ditched for not working.
      • Corporations and government agencies frequently junk old hardware when they're upgrading. It's not uncommon, especially in DC, to be able to outfit yourself with nearly up to date tech for free with skillful dumpster diving.
    • Someone once asked Peter Laird the very same question. He considers it "irrelevant".
  • What is the proper way to spell Mich(a)elangelo's name?
    • Michelangelo. The Turtles are named after Italian Renaissance Artists, and Mikey was named after Michelangelo Buonarroti. Michaelangelo is however a common spelling error.
      • Though he was named after the artist, "Michaelangelo" was the canonical spelling for the turtle for a long time. Apparently they started using the "Michelangelo" spelling regularly in 2001.
      • It was only spelled like that until Eastman and Laird did their research.

  • The Turtles are shown driving various tricked-out vehicles, but never draw the attention of the NYPD? Come to think of it, aren't they breaking the code of conduct for Lawful Good (or Chaotic Good for Mikey and Raph) by driving without a license? Yeah, MST3K Mantra, but it's just something I wondered about.
    • So they're not Chaotic or Lawful Good; that would be a good thing. Why should they obey the laws of a completely different species and a nation they are not registered citizens of?
    • What cop wants to put the smack down on the weirdos in green costumes who keep saving the city?
      • The same cops who want to arrest mutants after the X-Men save the world, or Spider-Man after he rescues a kitten from a tree, or Batman after he saves the city from Scarecrow...
    • What's funny is in the 80's cartoon, no one's ever on the street when the turtles are speeding in the Turtle Mobile. You don't have to be from New York to realize that makes no sense.
      • But it sure saves a hell of a lot on the animation budget!
    • Remember, alignments aren't rigid codes that force you to act a certain way. While driving without a license may very well be unethical on some level, depending on interpretation, they may either feel that the benefit outweighs the law at the moment (save the world or spend the last day on earth getting your license) or they may indeed feel poorly about it and simply accept that they need to doing a bad thing. And, just because you're one alignment most of the time, does not mean you are that all the time. And it is not out of the realm of possibility that someone may disagree with a law and disobey in a lawful manner.
      • Hm. I must have missed the episode where the Turtles explained they became DnD style Paladins and had to adhere to a strict Lawful Good code in order to keep their ninja abilities.

        Oh, that's right, I forgot that Character Alignment only applies at all in settings that explicitly use it, and not every fictional character in the history of cartoons has to adhere to some arbitrary two-word summary of said alignment.
      • Palladium's TMNT RPG does assign the turtles alignments. The turtles and Splinter are all Scrupulous (an analog to Neutral Good) except for Raph, who is Anarchist (roughly Chaotic Neutral). Two tenets of the Scrupulous alignment are as follows: "8. Attempt to work within the law whenever possible. 9. Bend and, occasionally, break the law when deemed necessary." For Anarchist: "8. Rarely works within the law unless it serves his purpose. 9. Constantly breaks the law to achieve his goals." Keep in mind this was established in 1985, when there were a grand total of three issues of the comic in publication and absolutely nothing else.
    • Besides all that, they're ninjas. Historically speaking, ninjas were the Chaotic to the samurai's Lawful. Which actually gets brought up in at least one episode of the 2003 series, when few samurai in Usagi's world trust Leonardo until he's proven himself both honorable and a ninja.
    • Who says they are actually speeding or breaking the law in any way shape or form? For all we know they could be abiding by it and also have a drivers license and registration. There is no evidence otherwise.So therefore we have to assume innocence.
      • It takes fewer assumptions for them to simply be illegally driving and evading authorities than it is to assume an elaborate ruse that allows them to acquire legal permits while still avoiding all human contact.
    • None of this answers the question of how they can drive around New York with vehicles that stick out like a sore thumb (and often have visible weapons attached) without arousing any suspicion.
      • If the cab scene in the first movie is any indication, where the cab driver shows very little reaction to "sort of a big turtle in a trenchcoat" vaulting over the hood of his cab, it seems that the people of TMNT!New York City are used to seeing weird crap on a daily basis, and have become desensitized to it. Having seen the Turtle Van driving around town enough times, they would just think "Oh, there go those turtles that are always saving the day" and go on with their lives.

  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, upon falling into a swamp, Donatello remarks: "I think I swallowed a frog. I hope it wasn't my ancestor." Now why would a frog be the ancestor of a turtle, and why would the "brains" of the quartet say something like that? AVGN included this in his top ten most nauseating quotes of the movie.
    • This Troper thought Donnie was being sarcastic in that scene...
    • And this Troper wonders when people stopped being able to recognize an in-character joke.
    • This troper thinks he said "I hope it wasn't an ancestor." Meaning the frog he may have swallowed was supposed to mate.
      • What.
      • Or he believes in reincarnation and ancestor worship.
      • Or, as was previously stated, it was humor shot at the kiddies for a cheap chuckle/the gross-out factor.

  • What possible purpose could it serve for the giant anthropomorphic turtles to wear tiny domino masks?
    • To tell them apart of course.
      • I doubt it, in the comics, ALL the turtles wear red masks. I'm going to say that its just a uniform thing.
    • Rule of Cool.
    • Because they have to wear something, otherwise they would be naked. We can't have that, now can we?
      • Hey, they wear belts and elbow/knee pads. Let's not throw out wild and uniformed accusations.
      • Because ninjas wear masks.
      • Because they sweat (canon from the original comic series - Donatello and April are trying to stop the mousers and Donnie is sweating up a storm; also canon per the original Fred Wolf cartoon in various instances) but lack hair that humans have, such as eyebrows and eyelashes. Keeping sweat and dirt out of the eyes is part of why we have fur on our faces. Lacking that, the "domino masks" do an effective job of keeping sweat and face oils out of their eyes. Hey, what ARE "domino masks," anyway?
      • A domino mask is the style worn by Zorro and Robin the Boy Wonder, and looks like a figure eight. The Turtles' masks don't look much like that.
      • Indeed, the turtles' masks are a rather unique combination of domino mask and hachimaki

  • Why does the NES game's second level have such a reputation for being hard? I beat it on my second try. Without losing any turtles. Am I just really good at video games, or what?
    • The timer has something to do with it - people panic more when the clock is ticking. Some people are just more cool under pressure.
    • A lot of people who played this didn't think to switch turtles when one of them got too injured.
    • And the game only gets harder after this stage.
    • Same reason that some people will tell you that Air Man is the hardest boss in Mega Man 2. Memetic Mutation. The NES game commits many sins, but Schizophrenic Difficulty isn't one of them; the dam level is the second easiest. But have you ever tried convincing people that a meme (or a Caustic Critic) is wrong?

  • I remember in my Misspent Youth hearing of the original TMNT comic and pretty much dismissing it, viewing the title as in-your-face punk perversion, etc. I saw the movie, and it was okay, nothing special. Of course, as time progresses, my own views evolve, and I forget a lot of what I thought earlier. (Sometimes going stuff I'd written years earlier, I'm reminded of ideas I'd had...) But here are two things that bugged me about the show.
    • According to the backstory, they were originally turtles, and their elderly mentor was originally a rat. They were exposed to radioactive toxic waste, and mutated into their current forms. Um, if the action of chemicals and radiation on the turtle body is huge enough to turn a small turtle into a huge talking ninja turtle, it would simply scramble the body all up, not transform it into a new giant complex machine or system. The metaphor of a tornado in a junkyard assembling a 747 (totally inaccurate for Darwinism and evolution) applies here.
    • I'd expect two effects of mutations. First, the DNA molecule might change (just a little bit) in a reproductive cell, and the mutation go into the next offspring of the creature. Second, the control system in a cell might be damaged. Cells reproduce, and sometimes have to reproduce rapidly to build or fix an organ. The reproduction has to be controlled strongly, to build the working organ. If the cell reproduces rapidly and uncontrolled (or even if the control is somewhat altered) we get a growth of flesh, not a working organ. Of course, this leads to cancers, tumors, etc.
    • Magic Genetics is a really common trope in superhero origin stories. TMNT is no worse than Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the X-Men or hundreds of others.
    • My second gripe: "Teenaged" eh? The main article proclaims the title as totally correct. Wait a minute. Were/are they really over 13yo? Or did they mutate into some turtle approximation stereotype of teenagers?
      • In the comics (and most of the adaptations of them) the turtles have been living in the sewers for at least fifteen years since the time of their exposure to the mutagen, making them solidly qualify as Teenagers. As far as the old fred Wolf cartoon, I got nothing, but that's far from the only thing about the series they screwed up.
      • The Fred Wolf series never really says how long they've been living down in the sewers when first meeting April. They do say in the first episode that it's the first time they're interacting with a human, but that they know all about humans because they watch a lot of TV. (April is not convinced.) This, combined with the fact that they must have trained for a long time to get as good at fighting as they are even in this show, would imply that they have in fact lived in the sewers for several years — so it's perfectly conceivable that they are actual teenagers there too.
      • In fact, the only continuity in which the "teenage" part is very clearly a blatant lie is the new IDW comic written by Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz, where the Turtles and Splinter are very clearly mentioned to only have been in their mutated state for fifteen months. No saying how old they were before they mutated, but they don't look that old, making them two or three years old at the most. Possibly in this case the "teenage" part refers to that they're physically teenagers, not chronologically.
      • The IDW versions of Splinter and the Turtles are reincarnations of their past selves from feudal Japan. The Turtles in their past lives were clearly teenagers, making the naming accurate, from a spiritual sense. Plus the 15 months was a direct nod to the fifteen years in the original Mirage series (and the first film).

  • Considering Leatherhead and Baxter Stockman have been in every Ninja turtles series, why haven't they been playable in any of the TMNT fighting games?
    • In most of his incarnations, Baxter Stockman is either a relatively weak human, or a cyborg that would be difficult to balance properly, the only form really fitting for a playable character would be his Human Fly form from the 80s cartoon. Leatherhead would work well though.
    • Leatherhead's been kind of Out of Focus since the the Dick Wolf series. His later versions only get a few episodes, as opposed to newer characters like Hun and Karai who got more heavily pushed. He probably keeps just missing the cut.

  • I assume he taught the Turtles, but how the hell did Splinter learn to read?
    • Before he mutated he was already extremely intelligent, having learned martial arts from his owner. Who knows what else he may have learned?
      • He learned martial arts by watching his owner, though its probable that he taught himself to read upon mutation.
      • Of course, in the 80s cartoon, he was human prior to mutation, not a rat. He was Yoshi himself instead of Yoshi's pet.
    • On this topic: In the incarnations where Splinter was originally a rat: Ok, so he learned the *fighting* aspect of ninjitsu from imitating Yoshi's moves. But how did he learn all the ninjitsu wisdom and philosophy? Did Yoshi talk to himself about it all the time? Even if Splinter was already a fairly intelligent rat (Maybe he was one of the NIMH rats?), Yoshi presumably didn't know that, so why would he be imparting such wisdom to his pet rat?
      • A lot of people talk to their pets. Splinter does mention that Yoshi noticed and was amused by the rat mimicking the battle movements, though he never realized just how deep the "lessons" went — it's not unfathomable that Yoshi, when seeing Splinter trying to copy his moves, would as a joke begin to tell him the philosophical aspects.
      • Alternately (or additionally), Yoshi may have had human students before he was forced to leave his clan in disgrace, and Splinter could have picked up the lessons when Yoshi talked to his students.
      • Which raises the question of how old Splinter is. A giant mutated talking rat is a fictional creature, and could live for decades (or, indeed, forever). But a real rat lives two years on average, maybe five or six years at most. Within that time span Splinter has to become Yoshi's pet, watch him enough to learn martial arts purely through observation, escape after Yoshi's death, and somehow reach New York to be mutated. And that's not even taking into account that rats are only partly bipedal (like bears, they can stand but not walk) so Splinter has to adapt all of Yoshi's teachings to his own stance before he can even practice them. He's not just a genius rat, he's Taskmaster.
      • To answer one of those: Yoshi moved to New York from Japan to get away from Saki, and took Splinter with him. The better question is how he got a rat from a different country through Customs.
      • It's a series where green ooze turns animals into humanoids, and the part you're having trouble with is a long-lived rodent?

  • How do the turtles always have money to buy pizza when none of them have jobs?
    • There was an episode where Michelangelo did get a job as a pizza deliveryman.
      • For that matter, how do they get their furniture without blowing their cover?
      • Speculation: they found their furniture/appliances at the city dump, and Donatello was able to fix the appliances to working order.
    • I bet they have some kinda promotional deal where they get a lifetime supply of free pizza for once saving the owner's life or something similar.
    • Sewer fishing for valuables. "You flush it, I find it."
      • Or like mentioned above, "borrowing" money from the people they've fought.

  • How come Raphael is the only turtle with a New York accent?
    • 'Cause he's just that tough.
      • I just assumed it was because he seemed to be the one who spent the most time above ground, thus acquiring the accent from the people he observed, overheard, etc. The other turtles learned English from either TV or Splinter but never really mixed with citizens from New York as much as Raph.
      • That's the most likely explanation. Also makes sense for the others. Leonardo tends to speak clearly and properly, like someone who's deliberately avoiding using an accent... he probably wants to sound "mature" for Splinter or something. Michelangelo talks like a surfer dude because he spends a lot of time watching TV, he probably learned Totally Radical speech patterns from that. And Donatello just speaks like someone who's intelligent enough to want to speak clearly without excessive slang or accent.

  • Where in all shell did Master Splinter get his hands on swords and sais? Give him some wood, bicycle chain, and enough time and I can see him making a bo staff and nunchaku, but it'd be awfully hard to forge decent blades in a sewer...
    • Bicycle chain would be terrible for nunchaku! But to address the underlying issue, the implication is that the New York sublevels of TMNT are a treasure trove of discarded items. A couple of quality katana does seem like a bit of a stretch, sais are slightly more plausible (it's just a glorified pitchfork), in any event it's a comic/cartoon. But even in real life there's certainly lots of loose change to be found (to answer the money question above). Collecting pennies in a sewer sounds like a solid Miyagi-style training exercise.
    • This is a real mystery of the entire series. As an expert I would theorize, that it is most likely that Splinter went to China Town in a disguise and bartered for them using various discarded items from around NY.
    • Or they built/forged their weapons themselves.
      • This seems the most likely answer. In "Monster Hunter," Leonardo has to forge himself brand new swords, and he does so using scrap metal. The end result is very much styled like his old swords.
    • Given that the Turtles are able to afford to buy food, not just scavenge it, Splinter has to have access to some kind of income. Even if he doesn't have much money, martial arts weapons would be very high on his purchase list.
    • Alternatively, Splinter takes on a couple of Foot ninja by himself and takes their gear. Given that Mirage Splinter intends to send his children to revenge-murder their leader, he's not going to flinch at taking weapons away from violent criminals (weapons that were probably stolen by the Foot in the first place).

  • Ok, I know that is almost an established fact that Leo is the oldest and Mickey is the youngest, but what about Raph and Don? Has it ever been in canon any hint about who is the second and who is the third? I can only find fan's assumptions.
    • Where is there any establishment of their ages? It's clear that Leo is the most mature and Mikey arguably the least but I always thought the Turtles were close enough to identical in age to make any difference negligible. They are brothers, and likely they came from the same batch. . .litter. . .clutch? Does anybody know off hand what a group of turtle eggs is called?
    • Given the order they're usually introduced in, I'd say Donnie is older than Raph.
    • They're effectively quadruplets. Children in multiple births can get ... intense about which one of them is five seconds older.
      • The order, depending on the version, usually persists based on the version that inspired it. The original comic has Splinter introduce them in this order: Leo, Mikey, Donnie, and Raph. The first two movies follow this order, as does the second intro to the second cartoon, the character select screen for a few of the games, and the song "T.U.R.T.L.E. Power" by Partners in Kryme (though why they ID Raphael as the leader is anyone's guess.) However, the first cartoon switches it up: Leo, Donnie, Raph, Mikey. This is backed up by the "Back to the Sewers" intro as well as the 2012 intro. I don't believe age ever factors into it, but if you want an age order I believe it's always been Leo as the oldest, followed by Raph, then Donnie, with Mikey as the youngest.

  • How do they have pizza delivered without revealing the location of the lair? I don't think they have the pizza guy hand it to a guy under the sewer grate every time. Eventually Shredder would catch on and discover where they are.
    • There is no reason not to really. However if you need an answer whether people think he's in a costume, is a freak or what Raph can clearly go to the movies with just a trench coat and a hat. He doesn't even need boots (perhaps they think it's a costume?) so they can literally pick any building they are willing to run out to name the address and wait out front. With a lot of business buildings that's a must because unlike in the movies "I've got a pizza for a Jack Napier in B-52" doesn't actually fly. So finding someone waiting out front with your money, waiting for the pizza you have, wouldn't raise an eyebrow for any delivery boy.
  • How come the Mirage comics were the only version where the Turtles had visible tails? It is just Lost In Adaptation?
    • Most likely it's because they tend to look like penises.
      • Well, I guess somebody had to say it.

  • In the Mirage comics, how does Splinter know about young Saki, Nagi's funeral, and the Foot? I know Splinter was present when his master and wife were murdered, but how does he know Saki left Japan at age 18? He was able to tell the turtles EVERYTHING. He even went into details.
    • Splinter and the Turtles have to have some sort of income. He could have hired a private investigator by phone, or met him in a dark garage in disguise.
    • He recognized the Foot presence in New York City, singled out a Foot ninja, and beat it out of him. The rat's on a vendetta here. (This would also neatly explain where Splinter got the Turtles' weapons; he would feel completely justified in stealing them from the Foot.)

  • Why should we assume the turtles in the movies are male? Even if there was one unique female turtle, it was the only one and so cannot be a generic rule about female turtle anthropomorphism?
    • Because they are male. That's not something that's ever been in question.
    • Turtles are not routinely spayed or neutered. Since they were originally pets belonging to a single owner, that means all male or all female.

  • About Shredder... or, more specifically, his One-Winged Angel form, Super Shredder. This badass character (or his Secret of the Ooze version, at least) feels like a missed opportunity. So, why he couldn't be included into more TMNT media?
    • He's often a boss in video games. And got an entire story arc in the Nick cartoon. As for why he's not used more often, its probably because Super Shredder traded intelligence for strength. Powerful, yes, but stupid. And a Shredder that isn't cunning and able to plan isn't as much of a threat.
    • Yeah... but Nick's version of Super Shredder seems to be intelligent and articulate by a significant margin than the one from the Secret of the Ooze. This particular trait could be explored further in different adaptations - not only video games. Some Turtles sources say that Mutagen "enhances both strength and intelligence", as Splinter's and Turtles' mutations can attest. Why not apply the same to Shredder? If his regular form is said to have an IQ in triple digits, he (or his accomplices) could develop a Mutagen strain that would not only physically empower him, but also expand his mind. Super Shredder would be a far more dangerous threat - and thus a lot cooler, no matter the adaptation. He had a potential in Secret of the Ooze... which was embarrasingly wasted. It would only make sense to bring him back - and bring him back with epicness. If Shredder would not be able to plan due to his "Super" status, it would only make sense to make him to do so.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: