Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Go To

YMMV Pages for Specific Works:




Video Games:

YMMV Items That Pertain to the Entire Franchise:

  • Adaptation Displacement: Most people remember the 1987 series. The comic book that inspired it? Not so much. This has been partially alleviated due to the advent of the internet in the 2000s, and later shows using elements more explicitly from the Mirage comics rather than the 1987 series, although the shows remain far more famous.
  • Adorkable: Donatello is presented as being a huge nerd, what with his love of science and engineering, but the effect is to make him charming and likable rather than a figure to mock or be creeped out by.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Ironically, TMNT has a rather weak Japanese audience. TMNT enjoyed a few years of popularity when it was first brought there in the early 1990s, but it quickly nosedived and failed to find any continuous success due to lack of interest. The Japanese dubs of TMNT shows tend to be short lived (with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles notably never even being dubbed; only the finale movie got a Japanese vocal track) and the Imagi movie was put straight-to-video — there were also short-lived anime and manga adaptations that never really caught on. This is often attributed to some of the Japanese elements reaching Shallow Parody levels. The most popular aspect of the series for Japanese fans seems to be the games, which were mostly created by Japanese developers and also avoided the more shallow aspects thanks to their excuse plots.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Hasbro, Mattel and other companies passed on making toys based on the comic. Playmates Toys, who was trying to break into the American market, signed on with the condition of having an associated cartoon, and it resulted in both making this kooky concept a worldwide hit and Playmates a big player in the action figure market.
  • Audience-Alienating Era: Many longtime fans will cite the time between 1993 and 2003 as one for the franchise as a whole; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III proved to be such a disappointment to fans that it actually hurt the original cartoon's popularity, and it doesn't help that the Red Sky seasons of the show were divisive at best, and were prone to being preempted by other programs like sports, meaning even fans who were willing to stick with the franchise despite the third film weren't always able to catch up, and by 1996, the franchise was generally seen as having lost its "cool" factor to most audiences, a perception not helped by the Adventures comic coming to an end. While the Image run (later known as Urban Legends) had some fans, it was prone to Schedule Slip, and Gary Carlson himself admitted that the book didn't have as much of an audience as they wanted, with many not even being aware of the book's existence. Then Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation happened, but unfortunately, that didn't help, either. In 2001, Volume 4 of the Mirage comics started, but it wasn't until the 2003 cartoon aired that the franchise finally started getting out of this rut. Some parts of this era have been Vindicated by History since their release, but some older fans still hold resentment towards the third film for starting the chain reaction.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Venus de Milo. Most fans see her as a Replacement Scrappy for April O'Neil, but some fans think that she is an interesting concept and would like to see her return in one of the current Nickelodeon-helmed adaptations. It's particularly telling that even the franchise's creators have differing opinions on her: While Peter Laird is well-known for outright despising the character, Kevin Eastman has gone on record to say that he likes the character and hopes for her to someday make a comeback, which eventually happened in Issue #127 of the IDW comic.
    • April herself is the most divisive character of the mainstay cast. One side doesn't mind most of her incarnations, liking for her more motherly nature towards the turtles and sometimes helping them out. The other side tends to get really annoyed with her, with the complaints usually depending on the incarnation of her being constantly kidnapped (1987 series), stealing the spotlight from the turtles (2012 series and 2014 film), or blindly rushing into the action (Rise). The 1990s film trilogy and 2003 versions, however, seem to have very little complaints and are praised for striking the right balance for her role.
    • Hamato Yoshi, or rather specifically his connection with Splinter. Yoshi was Splinter's deceased master in the Mirage comics, while the 1987 cartoon combined Splinter with Yoshi, and various other adaptations since have used a variation of either option more or less equally.note  Those who prefer Yoshi and Splinter as separate characters will cite the seniority of Mirage, the tragedy of Yoshi being dead and Splinter wanting revenge, etc. Those who prefer that Yoshi becomes Splinter will say it makes the story simpler and that the original origin (more or less recreated faithfully in the first 90s movie) has some major Fridge Logic (excusable by the first Mirage comic being a genre Stealth Parody) of Splinter learning martial arts from watching Yoshi while still unmutated, etc. But people tend to agree that if Splinter isn't a former human, Yoshi still needs to be in the story somehow, and versions that don't connect them at all will get flak, mainly because Yoshi ties into Splinter's enmity with the Shredder.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Michelangelo breaking out into an opera song(the tune of "O Little Town of Bethlehem") in the middle of We Wish You a Turtles Christmas. Seriously, just try not to laugh too hard. Raphael's "again" statement seems to deny it's a BLAM, while the other two turtles seem to be appropriately baffled.
  • Broken Base:
    • Given the sheer amount of Lighter and Softer / Darker and Edgier adaptations, this is to be expected. The most notable is between fans of the first and second cartoons (arguably made worse by Turtles Forever's Character Exaggeration of the 1987 turtles). Presently ongoing against the 2018 series for the same tone reasons, and possibly unfamiliarity with being into a franchise fandom.
    • When Nickelodeon brought the TMNT in 2009, fans have noted that most incarnations of the Turtles made under their ownership have gained more individual design elements and often different designs compared to how they were back when they were still independently owned by Mirage, where the only real distinguishable design elements between them were their weapons, and in adaptations, most notably the multicolored masks and sometimes them being different tints of green and/or having belt buckles with their initials. Some fans don't mind this change in approach and like that the turtles are made to be more unique and distinguishable from each other, while others find it to be unnecessary (given they already have at least their weapons and also almost always their multicolored masks to distinguish them) and find many of the designs under Nick's ownership (especially the 2014 and 2018 designs) to be too busy and/or off-putting.
  • Common Knowledge: Though popularly thought of as Caucasian, April was originally more accurately Ambiguously Brown. While Laird claims she is Caucasian, according to Eastman she is supposed to be mixed-raced, with no mention of what her ethnic background is supposed to be, meaning there is actual disagreement on what April is supposed to be ethnically.
  • Complete Monster: See here.
  • Crossover Ship: Michelangelo with Sara "Horridus" Hill from the Savage Dragon.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • 1987 series: This series' version of April O' Neil tends to be more.... fondly remembered by the fans. Also, Irma gets this treatment as well.
    • Bishop is probably the most popular character created for the 2003 series along with Hun and Viral.
    • Cute Monster Girl Mona Lisa got a lot of fanart.
    • The Neutrinos also have a pretty big fanbase, with Zach getting his own figure because of it.
    • The Rat King. He's easily become one of the turtles' greatest enemies.
  • Evil Is Cool: Many villains in the franchise like the Shredder, Krang, Rocksteady and Bebop, Karai, Bishop, Hun, the Rat King and many more.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Unfortunately, the TMNT fandom suffers from one of the largest inter-fandom wars in popular culture. This is in large part due to the franchise alternating between two wildly distinct tonal directions across its many incarnations that could not have been more different from each other. These include the lighter and softer entries popularized by the 1987 show and continued on in the 2012 show that stands in contrast to the darker and edgier entries as seen in the 2003 show and the original 1990 movie. Fans of the former turtles appreciate them for their more adventurous, humorous, and light-hearted spirit while also insisting that they also have their fair share of dramatic events and aren't just non-stop goofy nonsense; while the deriding the latter entries as removing the fun from the franchise by taking themselves far too seriously. Fans of the latter turtles appreciate their version for providing more mature, dark, and daring narratives that elevate the turtles' potential for storytelling and for being more loyal to the original source material; dismissing the former turtles as "corporate sellouts" that restricts the franchise to an Animation Age Ghetto for kids. What camp one falls under largely depends on which version of the TMNT the fan grew up with and became attached to, which leaves them surprised when other entries of the TMNT that are different from what they expect and eventually come to demand more of what made them fall in love with the Turtles. And of course, there are many fans who are perfectly fine with either approach and wish this divide would come to an end.
  • Fanon:
    • While Leo and Mike are considered to be oldest and youngest respectively amongst the brothers, most fans assume that Raph is older than Don, to explain Raph's sibling rivalry with Leo. This is actually contradicted by Kevin Eastman, who believes Don to be older, possibly because Raph's personality is based on Eastman's while that of Don is based on Peter Laird's and Laird is older than Eastman.
    • Some fans like having Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo meeting each other and being dear friends. There's even a club for them.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • Some works. But fans try to forget Next Mutation and the third film.
    • How most fans of the 1987 series treat the Red Sky seasons (though some are fond of season eight).
    • It's very common for fans of the 2003 series to treat Fast Forward and Back to the Sewers this way. To a lesser extent, some fans of the 1987 series treat Turtles Forever this way due to its divisive handling of those characters.
    • Many fans see the IDW series as having gone downhill after issue 100, so they'll suggest just stopping there.
  • Friendly Fandoms: TMNT fans and Usagi Yojimbo fans get along pretty well, thanks to the fact that the creators are friends in real life and have had their characters cross over in each others' series; Usagi has also guest-starred in every animated TMNT adaptation to date, with the exception of the 2018 series.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Ninja Turtles franchise as a whole is extremely well loved in Mexico, becoming one of Nickelodeon's biggest names in the country, along with SpongeBob SquarePants, and PAW Patrol.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • 1984, the year the TMNT comic debuted, is known in the Chinese zodiac as the year of the Wood Rat.
    • The comic was meant to parody Funny Animals, Dark and Gritty comics, among other things that were popular; ironically, this comic started the fad of animal teams.
    • In the Coming Out of Their Shells tour, Sherie Rene Scott played an April O'Neil who got silenced by the Shredder for singing. Many years later, she would do the role of the sea witch who would silence her little mermaid niece via magic in her Deal with the Devil.
    • In the second movie, Raph insists it wasn't slime, it was ooze. Now, many years later, the entire franchise is owned by Nickelodeon, who has been "sliming" people since before the line was spoken.
    • The official theme song, "Turtle Power" by Partners in Kryme, mistakenly credited Raphael for being the leader of the team. 28 years later that lyric is finally accurate.
    • In 2016, a short called "Don Vs Raph" by Jhonen Vasquez involved Don and Raph fighting each other with trivial contests. In 2018, there was a Splatoon 2 contest themed after who the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was, with Pearl siding with Raphael and Michelangelo, and Marina with Leonardo and Donatello. The finale of the Splatfest was Raphael vs Donatello (which Donatello ended up winning).
    • The Teenage aspect of the TMNT takes on a whole new meaning when it revealed that real-life turtles stay the same biologically after hitting sexual maturity.
  • Ho Yay: The Archie comics had some panels with some possible subtext between Bebop and Rocksteady. In one, Bebop complains about having to wear clothing. After they are stranded on a wilderness planet, both of them are seen stripping, with Bebop relieved...and Rocksteady looking at him with a rather warm expression.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!:
    • After the Turtles hit the big time following the success of the 1987 cartoon and toys, many members of the Mirage comics' small but dedicated fanbase were turned off. The letters pages erupted with accusations that Eastman and Laird were "sellouts", circulation dipped, and sales of the adult-oriented Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness role-playing game slowed down to a crawl. This is not really the case nowadays, since most adult fans - even those who do prefer the Mirage comics - grew up on the post-1987 merchandising empire to begin with.
    • Though no one was under any illusions that the Turtles weren't popular, Peter Laird's 2009 sale of the Turtles rights to Viacom shocked and alienated a number of fans, who had grown to appreciate the rare fact that such a huge and iconic media franchise was still owned by its original creator.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Karai; Oroku Saki; Agent John Bishop; Max Winters; Yokai Masseur;The Shredder and Rita Repulsa; The Shredder; & Superfly. See those pages for details.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "IT'S NINJA TIME!"
    • "God, I love being a Turtle!"Explanation
    • "NINJA-KICK THE DAMN RABBIT!"Explanation
    • And who can forget "COWABUNGA!"Explanation
      • COWABUNGA IT ISExplanation
    • "Help! I'm a turtle, and I can't get up!"Explanation
    • "Donatello does machines."Explanation
    • "Tonight, I dine on turtle soup!"
    • "Say no to drugs, say yes to pizza!"Explanation
    • "A little too Raph." Explanation
  • Mis-blamed: No, the 2003 series isn't an In Name Only adaptation of the 1987 series... The In Name Only version is actually the 1987 series.
  • Moral Event Horizon: See here.
  • Narm Charm: A good part of the franchise's success has relied on the sheer ridiculousness of it.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Some iterations of the boys look downright scary. Hell, even the concept itself of four human sized turtles that know the art of ninjitsu is freaky, even if they are the good guys.
    • The very last scene in the "Coming out of Their Shells" video.
  • Pandering to the Base: After Nickelodeon acquired the franchise, its various entries tend to steer much closer to the 1987 cartoon adaptation, due to a large amount of the series' fans having grown up on it. While the strategy has been largely successful, this has resulted in some people who were introduced to the broader franchise through material such as the 1990s movies or the 2003 series or even the original Mirage comics taking umbrage with the apparent favoritism.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Nowadays, mention the Turtles' names and there's a fair chance people will think of them first instead of the Renaissance artists they're named for. Especially Donatello, who is less well-known than the "trinity" of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael. The webcomic xkcd and the webseries Epic Rap Battles of History have both joked about him this way. And because Michelangelo the turtle's name was misspelled with an extra A for many years until it was quietly fixed, and thus pronounced "Michael Angelo" to this day (hence his nickname is Mike/Mikey, not Mick), odds are that people who grew up with the franchise will also apply this to Michelangelo the Italian artist until they're corrected.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Any version of April who is not the news reporter per the 1987 series or the live action movies is considered this to some. Except for the original April who is neither a reporter, a replacement, nor a Scrappy, making later fans view this version of the character as basically Early-Installment Weirdness.
  • The Scrappy: Ace Duck, an early character from the toy line who was the pilot of the Turtle Blimp, is often mocked for being superfluous (why would they need a pilot when Donatello could do it and they rarely use the blimp anyway?) and for having an uninteresting design and personality. He's never had a substantial role in any adaptation, and the scant appearances he has made have always served to make fun of him- in the Adventures comics he was a Miles Gloriosus who was always shown losing to his opponents, and in the 2012 series, Shredder dismisses him as useless.
  • So Bad, It Was Better: The franchise's... odd tonal situation, with the goofy 1987 Turtles and the dark and serious Mirage Turtles constantly jockeying for position as the "main" line of the franchise, has resulted in a lot of fans who grew up with the (largely considered to be So Bad, It's Good) 1987 series outright rejecting the darker, "better" versions of the Turtles.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Try watching the Christmas Special, We Wish You a Turtles Christmas without laughing.
  • Special Effect Failure: Any live-action Ninja Turtles production that wasn't a movie, save for the first one (due to being done by an experienced company), will inevitably wind up in the Unintentional Uncanny Valley for whatever reason. "Turtle Tunes" and "We Wish You a Turtles Christmas" are the worst offenders in this regard; with the turtles sporting rictus grins and barely blinking eyes, and the costumes don't even bother with the obligatory foot pieces to complete the look, settling on black socks instead.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Fans of the original Mirage Comics dish on the 1987 series for "selling out". Fans of the 1987 series say this about the 2003 version and its more serious tone. Fans of the first five seasons of the 2003 series will scream obscenities at Fast Forward due to its radical shift in tone, setting, and look. This was lampshaded in Turtles Forever when the 1987 turtles and 2003 turtles arrive in the 1984 (Mirage) universe. The Mirage Turtles there call the others ' sellouts' though they eventually settle their differences.
    • As per tradition, the 2018 series is being blasted with this as well, most prominently for Splinter's characterization as well as Raphael being the leader at the beginning.
  • Too Cool to Live: Splinter, in the Mirage and 2012 series.
  • Ugly Cute: Baxter Stockman as a mutant fly.