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Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats

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These turtle boys can cut a paycheck.

A common western action cartoon format that was very popular in the 1980s and 1990s (after the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spawned a crop of imitators) and still continues to this day.

The format is more or less this: a team of heroic monsters (aliens, mutants, or magical beings) are somehow created, awakened, or transported to the modern world. Usually a modern American city. They are honorable creatures who set out to fight crime, usually under the training of an Old Master, but the average person fears them for their appearance, so they must hide from muggles. However, they befriend one or two open-minded humans, usually either children or career women. These women or children end up being the team's friends and guides to modern Earth, and become their secret-keepers, and/or their Kid with the Leash. Together, they all fight supervillains and evil creatures while keeping their identities a secret to maintain normalcy.

Since these shows are usually aimed at young boys, expect The Smurfette Principle to be in full swing. The heroes are usually the last of their kind — a token girl only shows up on rare occasions. Consequently, Interspecies Romance will usually be explored, particularly by fans and especially with the aforementioned career women.

The secret-keepers will often hide them in the beginning, but since the monstrous team usually has at least three members, they typically end up getting their own headquarters. It's a good thing that Abandoned Warehouse/office building/ornate palace was around! Alternatively, they already have an established home in a place where humans generally don't go, such as the Wild Wilderness or Absurdly-Spacious Sewer.

These series tend to be Merchandise-Driven.

Not to be confused with Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot, though the Rule of Cool often plays a role.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Chiisana Kyojin Microman: Five "Microman", coming from the planet Micro Earth at the far end of the universe, are sent to Earth in order to protect it from Acroyer (who seeks to conquer the universe); their human friend is Kohei Kuji, a young school boy, who receives the package with them and initially mistakes them for action figures.
  • Jewelpet (2009) starts out as this, but it's dropped after 11 episodes.
  • Samurai Pizza Cats is a rare variant of the trope in that, rather than being set on Earth, it's set on a World of Funny Animals, so the titular heroes being anthropomorphic cats is the least remarkable thing about them. It still differs from the traditional superhero team in that the show has much more of a focus on comedy than action—especially in the legendary Gag Dub.
  • Sonic X: Utilized this format with Sonic and his Furry pals as the "monsters" (albeit cute ones) and the Thorndyke family as their human allies. This was ostensibly to give the audience a human identification character — Chris. They quickly dropped The Masquerade though, and Sonic became an instant celebrity.

    Comic Books 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the Trope Codifier, of course — with April O'Neil and Casey Jones as the human allies. Later volumes have humanity meeting aliens like the Utrom, so the Turtles begin going in public but still hide their mutant nature by pretending to be aliens.
  • Conversational Troping in an early-90s issue of Green Lantern set at a toy expo: "Buddy, every ten minutes I've got someone trying to sell me 'the new Turtles'. I've a warehouse full of stupid dinosaurs named after dead presidents!"
  • The Transformers (Marvel) — with the Witwicky family and G.B. Blackrock as the human allies.
  • Many other anthropomorphic animal superhero comics which were "inspired" by the Turtles. They spawned a bunch of "adjective, adjective, adjective, noun" anthropomorphic imitations/parodies, but those were mostly dreamed up by fans and wannabe pros looking to cash in (TMNT #1 was VERY rare and up to $2-300 in demand). This didn't stop until it crashed the comic market (the famous "black and white implosion" which was a dry run for The Great Comics Crash of 1996).
  • Mini-Comics Included is a series of mini-comics based on toylines that aren't real but could easily have been; Prime-8s, about a squad of 8 intelligent, superpowered apes and monkeys, is partially based on TMNT and this trope in general. This group was a little larger than most, and had two females.
  • In a back-up story of a Count Duckula comic book (Marvel), Danger Mouse faces Enraged Mutant Ninja Poodles.
  • In Super Sons, Superboy's jamas have a Turtles-like logo reading "Boxer Frogs".
  • The Cheetahmen of Action 52 had a comic that was filled to the brim with these clichés: a Mad Scientist named Dr. Morbis and his cyborg hunchback sidekick Cygore kill a mother cheetah, kidnap her three cubs, mutate them, train them in martial arts and other fighting styles, give them themed names (Apollo, Ares and Hercules) and then order them to raid the nearby villages. When the Cheetahmen protest, Morbis kicks them out and creates three new mutants (a hyena, rhino and vulture) that are completely under his control. The Cheetahmen realize Morbis killed their mother and return to his hut, where they fight the new mutants. After defeating them, Morbis and Cygore escape, Morbis swearing to destroy the Cheetahmen, while they swear to protect the world from Morbis and any other evil.
  • In issue 17 of Cherry Poptar-uh, sorry, Cherry Comics Cherry dons a yellow jumpsuit, and as "May O'Doul" reports on the Young Genetically-Altered Samurai Lizards Warhol, Picasso, Lichenstein and Keane. And then of course she has sex with all of them.
  • Subversion: Issue #10 of Marvel's Mighty Mouse run has the hero on the cover on the David Udderman Show listing the top ten reasons for buying this issue. No. 1: "No teenagers, no mutants, no ninjas, no turtles."
  • Sami The Samurai Squirrel is a rare solo example.

    Comic Strips 
  • The cover of one Bizarro book parodied this, with two penguins dressed like the TMNT complaining about a newspaper featuring the turtles:
    Penguin: When we were teenagers nobody wanted to hear about mutant ninja anythings.... Now we're over thirty and the whole thing catches on!

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Avenging Apes Of Africa, an 80s Marvista Entertainment animated movie which featured six African gorillas orphaned by an Evil Poacher who gain super-powers and human-like intelligence after being exposed to an ancient healing potion, growing up to become defenders of Africa's wildlife, specifically seeking to defeat the poaching kingpin Harry B. Richbone. Yes. This existed.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Ninja Meerkats series is Exactly What It Says on the Tin - four meerkats (Jet Flashfeet, Chuck Cobracrusher, Donnie Dragonjab, and Bruce Willowhammer) use their ninja skills to battle the evil Ringmaster and his Circus Goons.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ace Lightning: The Lightning Knights are a trio of interdimensional police officers from a video game dimension. While they look more human than most examples, they stand out because of their CGI appearances and are known by a select few humans who aid them.
  • Often parodied on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, where Conan's mock fall previews often feature programs such as Embryonic Rockabilly Polka-Dotted Fighter Pilots or Country Cuckoo-Clock Codpiece Zulu Warriors.
  • Israeli satricial show TV from the Future also presents a parody in the form of the Krav Maga Stellions, Avigdor, Mordecai, and El'or, who also parody the attitudes of overly-excited IDF brats, chanting chants like "About all those/About all those/who dump warriors/they should all be thrown to Gaza/to be w***s of the Arabs".
  • In Beauty and the Beast (1987), there's a secret community of outcasts living in tunnels beneath New York City. Lawyer Catherine Chandler begins keeping their secret after one of their members, the leonine Vincent, rescues her after she's abducted, beaten, slashed and left to die in Central Park.
  • The live-action show Dark Angel was similar in premise, with the exception that most of the Chimera could at least pass for human (with the notable exception of Joshua in season 2). Nevertheless, Logan acted as a Secret-Keeper for Max and the rest.
  • In-show commercials in the first episode of Roundhouse gave us these parody titles: "Adolescent Deformed Tai-Kwon-Do Tortoises", "Pre-teen Genetically-altered Martial Arts Iguanas", and "Kinda Young Really Screwed Up Karate Koalas".

  • In the wake of the craze, Ray Stevens recorded "Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens", about a quartet of fighting chickens.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Mutants & Masterminds, in its continuing mission to homage every comic book trope ever, finally got round to this one in the Superteam Handbook supplement, with four rabbits who were mutated into anthropomorphic young women and became the Shadow Knights. (They're even introduced in the same order as their counterparts in the 1987 series.)

  • The Snailiens: An obscure action figure line, featuring a quartet of anthropomorphic mollusk-like aliens who for some reason are named after famous U.S. Presidents.
  • The K9 Corps: Another obscure line of action figures that was centered around canine-human hybrid super-soldiers. The premise was very similar to G.I. Joe.

    Video Games 
  • The Battletoads from the video game of the same name. Unique in that it doesn't follow many of the sub-tropes, instead taking place in a world that looks like it came from a heavy metal record cover.
  • Parodied in the old adventure game The Big Red Adventure. One TV showed the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Beatles", who were four cockroaches with the faces of the Fab Four!
  • The Cheetahmen from Action 52. They were the "featured" game in the multicart, as series creator and Active Enterprises founder Vince Perri intended to launch a multimedia franchise in the same vein as TMNT. This fell through when it became apparent that the press and the gaming public did not take kindly to a rather subpar game.
  • Parodied in Goat Simulator, where you can find the "Michael Bay Turdles" hanging out in a sewer in Goat City Bay. On the console edition, they look like normal humans wearing green tracksuits and bandanas, but in the PC and mobile versions they much more closely resemble the original Ninja Turtles, except with the head of Shrek.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation features the Battle Frogs as the final boss of "Browntown". A combination of the Turtles and the Battletoads, they are three mutant frogs who consist of Herpez (red mask), Genital Wartz (purple mask) and Gonorrhea (orange mask) with a parody of Splinter included named Sphincter.

    Web Animation 
  • Mighty Magiswords: Parodied in the episode "Working For Scales" with the Dino Patrol.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The anime parody Japanoschlampen by Coldmirror features the NINJAMUTANTDUCKS!

    Western Animation 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the Trope Codifier, of course, with April O'Neil, Casey Jones, and Irma (and later on, Carter) as the human allies. Interestingly, the show only kept the idea of the Turtles trying to hide their existence from the world for a short time, with them wearing Conspicuous Trenchcoats and human masks in public but soon switching over to them being publicly known heroes. April's career as a news reporter probably helped in that regard.
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears might count... only it's pseudo-medieval instead of modern day, and it averts The Smurfette Principle (the original six had four males and two females).
  • The Adventures of T-Rex is a rather odd take on it. Much like the Samurai Pizza Cats, T-Rex is an anthro superhero team who live in a vaguely Noir-ish flavored world of humanoid dinosaurs and reptiles. The T-Rex are a literal Five-Man Band, in that they're five brothers who sing and play music in a night-club vaudeville act, recruited by a benevolent Mad Scientist and outfitted with Powered Armor, Harmless Freezing ray-blasters, a "Rexmobile" transport and a secret base to battle the crime problem in Rep City.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force spoofs this. The show centers around a group of anthropomorphic beings and their sole human accomplice. However, unlike its predecessors, the characters in question are fast food items instead of Funny Animals, they live in a suburban slum somewhere in South Jersey instead of in a city, they almost never fight crime or solve mysteries, they're almost entirely dysfunctional, and their sole human accomplice is a sleazebag who hates them.
  • Avenger Penguins was a spoof of this set-up. Three motorcycling humanoid penguins thwarting the plans of an Evil Genius villain once a week.
  • Biker Mice from Mars: Three alien mice land in Chicago and ally with Charley Davidson, a Wrench Wench mechanic who owns a garage where their bikes (actually war machines equipped with AI) are repaired and equipped with new gadgets. One of them has a crush on her, as she reminds him of a girl back home.
  • Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars! was this In Space, with the strange twist that the anthropomorphic animals are the norm, and it's the human character that has to be kept hidden from that reality's "muggles".
  • Butt-Ugly Martians was a 2000s show, unlike most of these, involving Martian commandos sent to conquer Earth... only to discover Earth has a lot more nice stuff than Mars, so they abandon their mission to camp out in an abandoned movie lot with their human Secret Keepers and stage fake battles to explain their delay in conquering the planet.
  • Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys: Anthropomorphic monkeys and apes fighting crime IN SPACE!.
  • Challenge of the GoBots: The initial Five-Episode Pilot was like this. Since the Gobots' cover has been completely blown by the end of that Story Arc (it's not as if Leader-1 didn't try to observe the Obstructive Code of Conduct at first), subsequent episodes show the Guardians interacting with Earth's people and governments completely out in the open.
  • Creepy Crawlers combined the Ninja Turtles format with the ever-popular "Creepy Crawlers" Thingmaker.
  • Darkstalkers: The cartoon version, with Felicia, Jon Talbain, Sasquatch, Rikuo, and later Hsien-Ko as the good guys, with a wizard named Harry and a butler named Klaus as human allies. Pyron, Demitri, Raptor, Anakaris, and even Morrigan were bad guys, and Bishamon, Donovan, and Hutzil showed up as neutrals.
  • Dinosaucers, in which good and evil teams of evolved dinosaurs engage in more-or-less comic battles on modern day Earth. The good guys have a bunch of human teenagers as their Secret Keepers.
  • Extreme Dinosaurs!: A Divorced Installment spun off from Street Sharks, featuring anthropomorphic alien dinosaurs.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: Parodied in the movie "Channel Chasers", where one of the TV shows Timmy travels through is "Adolescent Genetically-Altered Karate Cows".
  • Gargoyles: An ancient clan of "garagates" (who lived alongside humans) awaken in the '90s, after a thousand years frozen in stone, with policewoman Elisa Maza as their human ally. Gargoyles was one of the few shows to acknowledge that a situation like this simply can't last forever, and slowly had the Gargoyles transition from complete secret, to urban myth, to publicly known... and feared. Greg Weisman also said they made the main characters a trio rather than a quartet precisely so they could stand apart from this trope's usual fare.
  • Kung Fu Dino Posse, a 40-episode cartoon series that aired on Starz in 2009, is an homage to several Secret Mutant Hero Teams before it, including Extreme Dinosaurs and TMNT. In modern times, a quirky science geek accidentally thaws out four anthropomorphic dinosaurs, whereupon they inflict inexplicable Kung Fu upon evil raptor villains and their army of generic mutants. The series is well aware of its own cliches and often leverages them for comic effect.
  • The Failed Pilot Episode Magical Super Trolls revolves around three trolls from an underground civilization who are given super powers and head to the surface world to battle an evil troll wizard, befriending a female police officer in the process.
  • Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series, which may as well been called "Hockey-Playing Twentysomething Extraterrestrial Mallards". About a group of anthropomorphic ducks from a world surrounded by puck-shaped asteroids where hockey is Serious Business ( mean they're Canadian? *rimshot*) fighting space dragons and villains-of-the-week by posing as a regular hockey team in modern-day Anaheim, though to be fair, they 'pose' as a hockey team by actually playing hockey in a league. They're pretty much outed as aliens in the first few episodes.
  • Mummies Alive!: Centuries old Mummies able to summon Powered Armor, one of them a Sweet Polly ... Cleopatra?... Ride around in weird ancient Egyptian vehicles and get an Egyptian version of a boomerang whilst protecting a child reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh from an advisor of said Pharaoh.
  • Road Rovers is Warner Bros.' equivalent, although in this case, they were normal dogs owned by world leaders that were routinely summoned by their ally and then transformed into humanoid forms and garbed in battlesuits.
  • One Robot Chicken sketch features a team of motorcycle-riding combat mice called the Cheese League, who go by the names of Colby, Muenster, Cheddar, Brie, and Baby Swiss. After an action-packed introductory sequence of the Cheese League battling a team of evil rats, the Cheese League are brutally murdered by a cat.
  • Rugrats: Referenced in the episode "The Santa Experience", in which Angelica asks Santa for a "Teenage Nuclear Fusion Squad" video game.
  • Stone Protectors: A 1993 series that attempted to market the troll doll craze to grade school boys. The heroes are an awful Fake Band from New York City who are transformed into troll-like super heroes by magical crystals, then have to protect the crystals from the Saurians, reptilian bad guys who would use their powers for evil. The problem of hiding the conflict from the public is averted because the heroes are quickly transported to the Magical Land where the crystals came from.
  • Street Sharks: Teens turned anthropomorphic sharks with a Surfer Dude as their human ally.
  • Super Duper Sumos is a twist on this format with human sumo wrestlers. The Sumos aren't aliens or monsters, but they have supernatural sumo powers and were raised apart from contemporary society. They must adjust to life in Generic City; their open-minded "normal human" guide to modern life is Prima, their young cousin. The sumos don't have to hide like most examples, but people find them to be unusual. The villains are Bad Inc., a corporation which wants to take over the world and creates an unusual Kaiju each episode.
  • SWAT Kats could count in a sense, but compared to their contemporaries, there were several major differences. For one, they were lived in a world full of other anthropomorphic "Kats", and they became vigilantes because their former commander in the Megakat City Enforcers (essentially cops but with air and navy forces) caused them to crash into the Enforcer HQ while chasing a villain after trying to pull an Only I Can Kill Him (see the main article for more details). Also, it was produced by Hanna-Barbera, and was perhaps the darkest series they ever made - people actually got killed, for starters; it was an early, but failed, attempt, at breaking out of the Animation Age Ghetto.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Parodied - Plucky is a fan of the "Immature Radioactive Samurai Slugs" franchise.
  • Toxic Crusaders, the kid-friendly animated Spin-Off of The Toxic Avenger movies. Playmates Toys included fliers advertising The Merch from this show with their TMNT figures.
  • Transformers: The many animated adaptations zigzag the use of this kind of archetype:
    • Although the Autobots never really hid from anyone in the Sunbow series. They were acknowledged by the world's leaders as early as the end of the three-part pilot.
    • Transformers: Animated is more in line with this trope, featuring Sari as the kid, a smaller Five 'Bot Band, and an abandoned Detroit car factory as their HQ. The Autobots still don't hide from anyone, though; in fact, they rather visibly help repair the damage their fights cause, which helps keep them in the city's good graces.
    • Played straight with Transformers: Prime. The Autobots have a secret base, three kid sidekicks and a government liaison, and both sides try to avoid too much human attention.
  • Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa is TMNT in The Wild West with cowboys who were actual cows, though like the SWAT Kats they lived in a world with others like them (the Mesa in question was a Hidden Elf Village created when an irradiated comet struck the late 19th century Western plains, raising it above the clouds and anthropomorphizing all the cows and some other animals) and they were lawmen. Significant in that the C.O.W.-Boys were created by Ryan Brown, a writer and artist for TMNT who created many of the designs of the action figures and some beloved characters like Leatherhead, and the Mighty Mutanimals as a team. The Turtles also crossed over with the C.O.W.-Boys years after the show went off the air.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Radioactive Teenage Samurai Robot Wombats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Team, Teenage Mutated Samurai Wombats, Secret Mutant Hero Team



The main characters of the series are gargoyles, large winged humanoids (their appearance is vaguely demonic, though saying so is insulting to them) that are extremely (almost literally) nocturnal — they turn to stone, no matter what, when the sun rises. Once, there were many gargoyles, but interactions with humanity have led to their species becoming endangered. The main characters survived a purge in the year 994 thanks to a magical spell that made them permanently statues — at least, unless the castle which they were protecting were to ever "rise above the clouds".

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TeenageMutantSamuraiWombats

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