Splinter as he appears in the 2003 cartoon series
|First appearance||Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May, 1984)|
|Created by||Kevin Eastman Peter Laird|
|Alter ego||Hamato Yoshi|
|Team affiliations||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|
|Notable aliases||Master Splinter
Master Splinter, or simply Splinter is a fictional character in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe. Splinter is a giant anthropomorphic rat who is the master and adopted father of the Ninja Turtles.
Splinter's name (and in fact much of the TMNT's origin story) is a spoof of the origin of Daredevil (Marvel Comics). After being blinded by a barrel of toxic waste, Matt Murdock (Daredevil) was trained in the art of ninjitsu by a sensei known as Stick. Splinter, then, is a spoof of Stick. His status as a "sewer rat" is somewhat of a pun on the artist's name Seurat seeing that the four turtles are also named after artists from centuries ago, particularly the renaissance era although Seurat was from centuries after that era.
Splinter has two origin stories, and which one is used depends on the medium. In the original version of the tale, he was Hamato Yoshi's pet, and in the other, he is Hamato Yoshi.
In both the original comics and the live-action movies, Splinter was the pet rat of a ninja named Hamato Yoshi in Japan. Intelligent for his species, Splinter was able to learn his master's art by mimicking his movements while he practiced. Yoshi became embroiled in a dispute with a fellow ninja by the name of Oroku Nagi, and was eventually murdered by Nagi's brother Oroku Saki.
Without a home, Splinter was forced to run away and live in New York City's sewers. Due to a traffic accident, four baby turtles and a canister of radioactive slime were sent down into the sewer, where they mutated both Splinter and the turtles. Splinter named the four turtles Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo (after a book on Renaissance artists that he found in a storm drain) and trained them in the arts of ninjutsu, while still raising them as his own sons. Splinter died of old age in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (vol. 4) #10.
In the 2003 TMNT cartoon, he possesses a significant reputation as a ninja master; in a multi-part episode, he was revealed to be a champion of the Battle Nexus, a multi-dimensional-spanning contest where the greatest combatants of various dimensions come together to fight each other for the title of Battle Nexus Champion. When the Turtles first learn of the Battle Nexus, they participate as well, resulting in Splinter forfeiting when called upon to fight Michelangelo, as he wishes to allow his sons the opportunity to fight where he succeeded in the past.
In the 2003 cartoon during the Battle Nexus, Splinter is referred to as 'Hamato Splinter' indicating either that he regards himself as a member of the Hamato family, or that he took the name in honor of his dead owner.
In Fast Forward, Splinter was sent to the future with the Turtles. But when the Turtles finally found a way back to their time, Viral, a villain they met in the future blasted him with a decompiler ray that scattered his bits all over the internet. While Splinter wasn't seen much, the Back to the Sewers season dealt heavily with the Turtles going all over cyberspace to find all of his data bits. Splinter is restored at last in the final episode of the series, just in time to assist April and Casey's wedding, and help defeat the Cyber Shredder.
In the 1987 TMNT cartoon, Splinter is Yoshi. He was a martial art instructor for the Foot Clan, based in Japan, and also had a passion for Renaissance art. One day he was framed by his rival, Oroku Saki (who would eventually turn into his future arch-enemy, the Shredder), for trying to murder their common dojo master. Being unable to prove his innocence, he moved away to New York City, where he lived as a hermit in its sewers and befriended the rats. One day, he came across four baby turtles which were accidentally dropped by a boy through a grate of the sewers. He kept them as pets and treated them like his children. But later, he found the turtles venturing near broken barrels that were oozing glowing pink chemical liquid. As he tried to recover them from danger and attempted to clean them with his bare hands, they were all affected by the chemical which was a mutagen. This mutagen transformed any living being into a mutant whose body became mixed with the DNA of any other living being it was last in contact with. The turtles, being touched by Yoshi, turned into young anthropomorphic humanoid turtles. Hamato himself, having more recently been in contact with sewer rats than his own pet turtles, became a humanoid rat.
Since then, Yoshi raised the turtles by himself, and gave them the names of his favorite Renaissance artists: Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo, who were to be distinguished by personality and headband color. He also taught them the art of ninjutsu in order to protect themselves better, since people above ground would not accept them.
Hamato was given the nickname "Splinter" by his adoptive sons, due to his proficiency at breaking wooden boards. On one occasion Donatello was able to use the remnants of the ooze that transformed them to restore Yoshi's human self, but the process was only temporary and soon wore off; however, Splinter, having seen how humans could treat each other at times, concluded that he preferred his new state, particularly due to the relationship he had with his sons.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures from Archie Comics published the 1987 TV series in comic form and maintained Splinter's original human background even when they started publishing original storylines.
During Turtles Forever, the 1987 Splinter meets the Turtles from the 2003 series, with '03 Leonardo commenting during their time with this alternate Splinter that it feels right to be there with Splinter regardless of the differences between the two worlds. Splinter's assurances that he feels the same, coupled with his comment that Leonardo and his brothers will always be welcome there, helps Leonardo see the common similarities between the teams, regardless of their different styles and methods.
Splinter's physical appearance remains fairly consistent in all incarnations of the character, with slight differences. He is portrayed as an elderly rat dressed in robes. In the original live-action movies, he also lacks at least part of his right ear, which was cut off by Saki. In the 2003 animated series, Splinter is depicted as having gray fur as opposed to brown fur in his other incarnations. In the series TMNT: Back to the Sewers, his look is slightly changed to resemble the 2007 movie.
Splinter is portrayed as wise, intelligent and a skilled martial arts teacher. He is nearly always calm and, even when angry, refrains from raising his voice. He seems to be an example of the cliched calm, all-knowing wise master of all martial arts; he may have even helped to create that image.
He cares for his adopted sons with fierce devotion, rescuing them in very critical moments in the series, such as when Shredder attempted to execute the four on a building, or when Bishop tried to literally tear them apart for science. He went berserk with fury when the Foot attempted to slay the Turtles with a robot Splinter and going all the way to Japan after the four had been kidnapped by the Tribunal. Anyone who tries to harm them severely is nothing more than a threat in Splinter's eyes, proved when he pounced and attacked Casey when he stumbled into their home, not knowing he was a friend.
However, regardless of his love, he can be fairly militant to his sons, especially when they were very young and inexperienced, but nowadays he isn't like that. Splinter's main fear is that he and his family will one day be exposed to the outside world for what they are, and is understandably protective. He is not above disciplining the turtles whenever they become disobedient or unruly, (such as making them do backflips repeatedly in the second live-action movie).
Splinter isn't without his soft side. He has a normally tender and self sacrificing heart, insisting the Turtles not give up their weapons when Hun took him as a prisoner in Rouge in the House, Part Two-(this was ignored by his sons, choosing to drop their weapons anyway) and was most hesitant about letting his sons die alongside him in Exodus, Part Two.
Also, he could be heard telling everyone in "Reflections" that he thought the turtles, as infants, "were all so cute."
In the Ninja Tribunal series, he was haunted again and again with nightmares of his sons being slaughtered. When it appeared to actually happen, Splinter was lost in despair, but quickly turned to relief when it was apparent they had just been knocked out.
In the Back to the Sewers, he admitted that, even when he was in pieces in Cyberworld, he had an intense yearning to see his family again.
Splinter is not completely cut off from the pleasures of modern culture: he enjoys soap operas. This is more fully displayed in Fast Forward, when his hobby is mentioned several times.
In the 1987 series, he was voiced by Peter Renaday in the American version and by Hideyuki Umezu (TV), Yuzuru Fujimoto (NHK-BS2) and Kiyoshi Kobayashi (VHS) in the Japanese versions. The film Turtles Forever features this incarnation, voiced by David Wills.
In Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation Splinter is voiced by Stephen Mendel.
In the 2003, Fast Forward, and Back to the Sewer versions, Splinter is voiced by Darren Dunstan. In the Japanese version, he is voiced by Shoto Kashii.
Splinter appears in most video games based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. He is a playable character in TMNT: Smash Up.