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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Group of humanoid sewer dwelling teenage turtles (Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo) on the animated cartoon TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/SYN/CBS/1987-96.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Cartoon

This team of crime fighting turtles consisted of :

  • Michelangelo (orange face mask), the prankster of the group and an expert with the whirling Nunchukus (Japanese weapon of two wooden stick attached by a chain). The ultimate party animal, he loved rock n' roll, doing corny imitation of movie stars like Sylvester Stallone and James Cagney and really went bonkers over a good pizza (a food enjoyed by all of the turtles). Mike jokingly called himself the "Master of the Whirling Pizza."

  • Donatello (purple face mask), the smartest of the Ninja turtles. Donatello was a mechanical whiz, who always read technical manuals and invented things like the Turtle Communicator and the Turtle Blimp. His weapon of choice was the Bo, a long wooden staff.

  • Raphael (red face mask), a loner and a rebel who was the hot-headed member of the group. His favorite weapon was the Sai, a three pronged dagger.

  • Leonardo (blue face mask), the oldest, (16 years old) most responsible and disciplined of the group. His taste in weapons leaned toward the Katana, a long sword (but he was proficient with all fighting tools).

The Turtles spoke in a surfer-dude language and used such phrases as "Radical," "Awesome," "Mondo," "Tubular, "No Problemo" and "Bummer." Their favorite catchphrase and battle cry was "Cowabunga."

The teenage turtles were lead by a large rat called Splinter. Whereas the turtles loved pizza, Splinter enjoyed Sushi. Splinter was a master of the martial arts. He used to be a Japanese Ninja master named Hamato Yoshi "the greatest shadow warrior" who was betrayed by an evil disciple, Oroku Saki who took over his fighting clan (The Foot) and turned them towards evil ways. Hamato Yoshi then escaped to New York City and took shelter in the sewer system.

While living beneath the city streets, a small boy carrying a bowl of pet turtles tripped and spilled its contents into the sewers below, where Hamato Yoshi found and adopted them as pets. He named the turtles for his favorite Italian Renaissance artisans.

All went well until Oroku Saki (now called Shredder) discovered Hamato and poured a green ooze over him and the four turtles. This toxic waste instead mutated Hamato into a huge hairy rat and the turtles into humanoid-sized turtles.

Realizing the green ooze bestowed intelligence onto the turtles, Hamato trained the mutant turtles in the ways of the Ninja. (According to the comic book origins, Splinter was the name of Hamato Yoshi's pet rat who was transformed by the Retromutagen Ooze).

Shredder employed other mutant animals like Rocksteady (a grey rhino cross-mutated with a street thug) Bebop (a warthog crossed with a dim-witted mobster) continued to be the Turtles main nemesis.

In future episodes additional evil doers crossed path with the Turtles, including:

  • Krang, an evil bodiless brain-shaped entity from Dimension X

  • General Traag, the leader of Krang's Rock Soldier Army

  • Baxter Stockman, an absent-minded professor mutated into a fly creature

  • Rat King, a sewer based criminal dressed in rags who controlled the rats beneath the streets of New York City (a la the Pied Piper)

  • Foot Clan soldiers (purple-hooded robots/teenagers who did the evil bidding of Shredder and his accomplices).

The good-guys who assisted the turtles in their fight against Shredder were:

  • April O'Neil, a human female TV news reporter

  • Casey Jones, a human who wore a hockey mask and fought criminals vigilante style with a hockey stick

  • Ace Duck, a famous test pilot who mutated into a duck creature

  • Genghis Frog, a tadpole mutated into a five-foot tall intelligent frog

  • Metalhead, a robotic turtle built by Krang but reprogrammed by Donatello to be their butler

  • Danny Pennington, the lonely son of April's Boss who joined forces with the turtles

  • Usagi Yojimbo, a white rabbit who cross-mutated with an ancient Samurai warrior

  • Wingnut, a vampire bat from the planet Huanu

  • Screwloose, a mutated mosquito buddy of Wingnut.

NINJA TURTLES: THE NEXT MUTATION/FOX/1997 continued the adventures of the Turtles in a live-action TV-movie with full-bodied characters similar to the theatrical film versions.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Movie

TRIVIA NOTE: The idea for the Ninja Turtles was created in 1983 in the kitchen of a New England farmhouse by the cartoonist team of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird from Northhampton, Massachusetts.

After unsuccessfully trying to sell their concept to Marvel Comics, the two borrowed $500 from Kevin's uncle and printed 3000 black and white Mirage Studios comics in April 1984 which sold out immediately. The next issue sold 15,000 copies and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soon became one of the most profitable merchandising schemes in history (with the assistance of entrepreneur Mark Freedman).

The popularity of the Ninja turtles inspired video games, toy figurines, and the successful live-action Golden Harvest film adaptations Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and its sequels Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993). In 2007 a computer-animated reproduction called TMNT was produced by Peter Laird.

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