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Trivia / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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  • Both voice actors that played Ratchet from the Ratchet & Clank series were turtles in the 2007 movie.
  • The second volume of Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revealed what type of turtles the eponymous ninjas are: specifically, they are red-eared sliders (or Trachemys scripta elegans). However, some adaptations opt to make each of the four distinct - Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has only Leo as a red-eared slider.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has the following tropes:

  • Acting for Two: Quite common for two characters to share a voice actor. For instance, Bebop and Rocksteady were done by Donatello and Leonardo.
  • Adaptation Overdosed: In addition to the numerous animated adaptations and video games, there are also the newspaper strip, a series of British-made short comics, two anime OVAs, two live action musical specials, a couple of novels, several kid's books, magazines and crossovers and heaven know how much toys and merchandise.
  • Adaptation Sequence: Comic —> Cartoon —> Comic based on cartoon —> Movie —> Band —> And so on...
  • Cash-Cow Franchise: 30 years still going strong and getting lots of merchandise!
  • Executive Meddling: Some cases, such as the 1987 cartoon making the property family friendly (with collaboration from the creators) or adding a female Turtle in Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (only Eastman was OK with it, ultimately leading to the rift that led to Laird purchasing his half of Mirage Studios).
  • Exiled from Continuity: Venus de Milo was barred from ever showing up while Laird owned the franchise, due to him completely hating the character. With Nickelodeon's acquisition of the franchise, it finally became possible for the character to appear again, finally returning in 2022, in the IDW continuity.
  • God Never Said That: Peter Laird's hatred of Venus de Milo from Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is quite well-known, but many fans have mistakenly believed that the franchise's other co-creator Kevin Eastman had the same opinion on Venus. According to this interview, Kevin Eastman actually likes Venus as a character and hopes for her to make a comeback someday.
  • Mutually Fictional: The Next Mutation turtles-'verse and the Power Rangers 'verse, or so the characters of both series thought before the Crossover.
  • Pet Fad Starter: Lots of kids bought pet turtles. Few were ninjas, fewer were mutants, and those that weren't kept were often released into the wild. This contributed to how the Red-Eared Slider, a popular turtle in the pet trade, was introduced into many areas it's not native to.
  • Prop Recycling: Inverted and played straight for the Playmates toylines- sometimes they would reuse molds from other lines (the Muta Force exoskeletons were retooled Exosquad toys), and sometimes TMNT molds would be reused for unrelated lines (the Pizza Thrower was reused for the toyline based off Chicken Run, oddly enough).
  • Sleeper Hit: Who'd have guessed an independent comic which emerged as a joke between its creators would make both millionaires as it became an international sensation?
  • Trope Namer:
  • What Could Have Been:
    • There have been several proposed-but-scrapped TMNT projects over the years. Among the most notable are two TV shows that were pitched in 2001: The first would have been a cartoon by Warner Brothers Animation(along with this), which among other things, would have featured a teenage Casey and April and the turtles comic book design, while the other was a CGI show made by Rainbow with motion capture animation.
    • In 2015, an alternate universe prequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Foot Clan Origins, was pitched, with Eric Robles of Glitch Techs on-board, which would have been about a young Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki, orphans in this continuity, establishing the Foot Clan.
    • Back when the Archie Comics series was selling well, there were plans to make a Spin-Off of the 1987 cartoon based on the Mighty Mutanimals, a group of allies of the Turtles in the Archie Comics. Krang was planned to be the Big Bad with the Turtles making guest appearances. A whole animation bible that featured designs for characters from the comic series and new characters created specifically for the show was submitted to Ruby-Spears, but the show quickly fell through. The cancellation of the Mutanimals animated series was what led to the team being Killed Off for Real in the Archie series at the hands of the Gang of Four.
    • Donatello was originally going to be called Botticelli.
  • The Wiki Rule: TurtlePedia covers all TMNT related media.

These films provide examples of:

  • Actor-Inspired Element: It was Josh Pais' idea to give Raphael a Brooklyn accent.
  • California Doubling: Back in the previous two movies before the third one, many scenes were shot in both New York and North Carolina, though both films take place in much of New York, anyway.
  • Channel Hop: From New Line Cinema (the trilogy from the 90s), to Warner Bros. and The Weinstein Company (TMNT) to Paramount and Nickelodeon (the 2014 film and Out of the Shadows).
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Roger Ebert was evidently not aware of the comic book beginnings of the characters, as his review claims that they originated in the NES game.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Although he was proud to have helped advance the art of animatronics, Jim Henson was less than pleased with the actual content of the movie. He viewed the violence as "excessive, pointless, and not his style." As such, Henson's children tried to have a dedication to his memory removed from Secret of the Ooze (which, ironically, went out of it's way to tone down a lot of the violence because of Henson's complaints).
    • Judith Hoag wasn't a fan of how the movie came out. She has said that she enjoyed making the film, but there was a "mystical through-line" with the turtles that was cut, and she wasn't happy about it.
    But one of the producers called those parts ‘fluff' and said that ‘all the kids wanted to see was the fighting.' I disagreed with him then and I disagree with him now.
    • This was the primary reason that Hoag did not reprise her role in the sequels. Well, that and money. "I wanted the ‘fluff' back in the script and I wanted conditions on the set to improve. I also wanted a raise."
  • The Danza: Borderline example, Michelan Sisti wore the Michelangelo costume.
  • Deleted Scene: The first film had several. There are numerous scenes on the farm that give the four turtles much more Character Development, expanding on April and Casey's romance, and would put later scenes into a different context:
    • Casey would have been introduced much earlier, watching the news report of the crimewave before getting his hockey mask.
    • April and Casey's reaction to Mikey's "turtle wax" joke was originally one of relief after he goes through a severe Heroic BSoD where he destroys a punching bag and part of the barn's wall. (April was originally going to draw a sketch of him and narrate that he was the one she was the most concerned about - it sticks out in the film, as she comments on Leo and Don, but not Mikey).
    • An extended training sequence where Leo proves a point by turning his mask around and fighting blind followed by the other Turtles taking turns doing the same. The scene rather famously has Donatello sporting a straw hat.
    • Various scenes of the Turtles training on their own or in pairs trying to master the technique Leo shows them earlier.
    • Some of the April and Casey scenes involve him trying to help her with a stuck truck door while she declines and exits on the driver's side. Another leads into the scene of the two of them talking on the porch swing where the night before she shows him her drawings the Turtles but tries to hide the one she did of him in a beanie, they both share a laugh over it.
    • A game of "ninja hot potato" where the Turtles toss around an apple and the holder has to defend against the other three while taking a bite out of it. It makes the later scene where Raph finishes off an apple after defeating a squad of Foot ninjas a Call-Back.
    • Shredder sparring with the Foot Clan and mopping the floor with them without even standing up. This is especially notable as this is an actual ninja tactic called fudoza, or immovable seat, and he used actual ninja techniques for the scene.
    • Had director Steve Barron and editor Sally Menke had their way, the film would've adapted the original comics' origin story that featured Oroku Nagi verbatim. This plot line found its way into the novelization and comic adaptation of the film, giving them the distinction of being the only TMNT adaptations that adapt the original origin story word-for-word.
    • The stickerbook for the movie features scenes that were cut - Raphael's fight with Casey leading into an alley and April leaving the burning apartment followed by Leonardo carrying Raphael.
  • Doing It for the Art: Why Jim Henson agreed to help on a independent film about some cartoon based on a comic book (remember, this was before big-budget adaptations of such things were common). He knew full well that to do it right he would basically have to invent new animatronic technology, and he did it so well that it became the basis of what the industry standards for animatronics are today. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, he came to regret his involvement when he saw just how violent the final product was.
  • Executive Veto: Danny's Sid Vicious t-shirt was added at the advisory of director Steve Barron who wanted the film to have a punk rock soundtrack. The producers wanted something a bit more commercially friendly, which is why we got a soundtrack that included MC Hammer and songs like "Turtle Power". The original choice for composer was Malcolm McLaren.
  • Fake American: The Canadian Elias Koteas played New York's Casey Jones.
  • Fake Nationality: Baltimore native Kevin Clash plays Splinter with a Japanese accent.
  • Follow the Leader: The first film came out in the wake of Batman (1989)'s success. It even has the film's dark and murky tone, in line with the original comics.
  • He Also Did: Before this film, director Steve Barron was an acclaimed music video director, having done the videos for "Billie Jean", "Take on Me," "The Sun Always Shines on TV," "She Blinded Me With Science" and "Africa", as well as the music video-esque Cult Classic Electric Dreams. He was also a Creature Shop veteran, which is how he got the company to provide the Turtles' puppets. He'd later go on to direct a different cult film, Coneheads.
  • Looping Lines: Shredder in the films is performed by James Saito in the first film and François Chau in Secret of the Ooze, but is dubbed over by David McCharen in both. Tatsu meanwhile, is performed by Toshishiro Obata and dubbed by Michael McConnohie in both.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: In the original trailer, there is a shot of the turtles rising up from what looks like a swamp. The shot was cut from the final release but is part of a longer scene that was later used near the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.
  • No Stunt Double: Josh Pais who played Raphael in the suit and also did the voice in the first movie did most of his own stunts, save for the backflips and skateboarding.
  • Orphaned Reference: Raphael is eating an apple after the turtles defeat the Foot's first wave during the sewer fight. This was meant to be a Call-Back to the deleted "ninja hot potato" scene mentioned above. Fortunately, it still works as a joke about Raph finding the Foot so unchallenging that he feels at ease enough to have a snack during the fight.
  • Refitted for Sequel: Donatello's "eclectic" joke that appeared in the opening fight of Secret of the Ooze was supposed to have been originally utilized during the extended farm training sequence — which got cut from the final product.
  • Same Language Dub: The only puppeteer to actually voice his character is Josh Pais as Raphael.
  • Spared by the Cut: The scene where Tatsu beats a Foot ninja named Shinsho to death was deemed too dark and one line and heavy breathing were added to the final cut to imply that he survived.
  • Throw It In: The reason why Raph has a Brooklyn accent in so many other adaptations is because Josh Pais (his actor in the first film) had a thick accent himself and the filmmakers decided it was just too perfect.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Originally, Steve Barron wished to replicate April O'Neil's jumpsuit look from the early Mirage comics and the cartoon. The look was going to closer resemble the cartoon with a yellow colored jumpsuit and a big head of red hair (as opposed to a green jumpsuit and brown hair). However, Judith Hoag found the jumpsuit "horrifying" and the idea was nixed. The yellow raincoat April wears in the beginning of the movie is a homage to the yellow jumpsuit she wears in the 1987 cartoon.
    • Jennifer Beals, Lorraine Bracco, Sandra Bullock, Melanie Griffith, Nicole Kidman, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Marisa Tomei and Sean Young were all considered for April O'Neil.
    • The scene where Raphael exits the movie theater was originally going to be different. There would have been no poster for Critters showing, and Raphael would have commented, "Cool car. Stupid costume." This would have been a reference to Batman (1989), which was in theaters during the filming of this movie.
    • In the first film, Tatsu brutally beats a young Foot ninja named Shinsho due to the Foot Clan's failure. Originally, Shinsho was intended to die, but that scene was cut since it was considered too violent for some. The dialogue was replaced with the kid comforting him saying "you'll be alright," to show Tatsu only injured him.
      • In the junior novelization that was done of the movie, Shinsho does die. Novelizations of movies are typically based on the screenplay, so the change must have happened solely in the editing room.
      • In the French version of the movie, Shinsho does die.
    • Both the second and third movies had removed bits of dialogue explaining where Casey was during the second film. Unfortunately it seems the dialogue never went any further than "He was out of town."
    • Had the third movie not bombed, the fourth movie would have been about the Turtles and Splinter furthering their mutation. One of the most notable being Mikey taking a more human-like appearance, allowing him to go to the surface. In addition, a fifth turtle named Kirby would have joined the team.
    • With Nickelodeon owning the franchise now and producing a Continuity Reboot franchise, we likely will never see a true sequel to the 2007 film. All we have now is hints to a plot of a sequel that will probably never materialize.
      • The 2007 film's director, Kevin Munroe, notes that he would have loved to do a sequel exploring the Foot Clan a little more. He also states that he would also liked to have done something with the Rat King or the Triceratons.
    • In the 1980s, the first pitch Eastman and Laird got for a film treatment was from schlockmeister Roger Corman's New World Pictures. The idea was to have the Turtles played by four comedians who were popular at the time - Gallagher, Sam Kinison, Bobcat Goldthwait and Billy Crystal. The actors would be dressed in turtle shells and have their arms and legs painted green. Another treatment received at the time took the Turtles into R-rated territory and included a scene with partially nude nuns on roller skates fighting the heroes. It was turned down, but Peter Laird has admitted to wondering how different things would be if he had accepted at the time.