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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Format Animated series / Action / Adventure / Science fiction / Comedy
Voices of Cam Clarke
Barry Gordon
Rob Paulsen
Townsend Coleman
James Avery
Renae Jacobs
Pat Fraley
Peter Renaday
Jim Cummings
Michael Gough
Country of origin  United States
 Japan (overseas animation)
No. of seasons 10
No. of episodes 193 (List of episodes)
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Murakami Wolf Swenson
Fred Wolf Films
Mirage Studios
Surge Licensing
Distributor Group W Productions (1987-1990)
Original channel first-run syndication (1987-1990)
CBS (1990-1996)
Original run December 28, 1987 (1987-12-28)[1][2] – November 2, 1996 (1996-11-02)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in Europe due to controversy at the time) is an animated television series produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson. It premiered December 28, 1987[1], as a five-part mini-series animated by Toei. The series featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters created in comic book form by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The property was changed considerably, from the darker-toned comic, to make it more suitable for the family.

The initial motivation behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series was that, upon being approached to create a toy line, Playmates Toys was uneasy with the comic book characters' small cult following.[3] They requested that a television deal be acquired first, and after the initial five-episode series debuted, the California toy company released their first series of Ninja Turtles action figures in the summer of 1988.[4] The two media would correspond in marketing style and popularity for many years to come.

David Wise and Patti Howeth wrote the screenplay for the first five-part miniseries with input from Eastman and Laird. When the series continued in the second season, comic artist Jack Mendelsohn joined the show as the executive story editor.

The show was in Saturday morning syndication from October 1, 1988 to September 23, 1989. After it became an instant hit, the show was expanded to five days a week and aired weekday afternoons in syndication in most markets, from September 25, 1989 to September 17, 1993. On September 8, 1990, the series began its secondary run on CBS's Saturday morning lineup, beginning as a 60-minute block from 1990 to 1994 and then as a 30-minute block until the series ended on November 2, 1996.

The show helped launch the characters into mainstream popularity and became one of the most popular animated series in television history. Breakfast cereal, plush toys, and all manner of products featuring the characters appeared on the market during the late 1980s and early 1990s. A successful Archie Comics comic book based on the animated show instead of the original black-and-white comics was published throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. Action figures were top-sellers around the world. In 1990, the cartoon series was being shown daily on more than 125 television stations, and the comic books sold 125,000 copies a month.



The origin story in the 2012 TV series differs greatly from that of the original Mirage Studios comics, presumably to make it more appropriate for a family audience. In this version, Splinter was formerly a human being, an honorable ninja master named Hamato Yoshi. Yoshi was banished from the Foot Clan in Japan after being deceived by the seditious Oroku Saki, who pinned Hamato Yoshi's dogi to the wall with a knife, preventing him from kneeling before their sensei, which was seen as an insult. When Yoshi removed the knife, the sensei was again insulted, believing Yoshi was drawing the blade in opposition to him. Exiled from the ninja clan, the disgraced Yoshi moved to Alabama, where he was forced to live in the sewers.

While living in the sewers with the rats as his friends, Yoshi one day found four turtles, recently bought from a pet store by an unnamed boy who accidentally dropped them in the sewer. Yoshi returned one day from his explorations around New York to find the turtles covered with a strange glowing ooze. The substance caused the turtles, most recently exposed to Yoshi, to become humanoid, while Yoshi, most recently exposed to sewer rats, became a humanoid rat, and started going by the pseudonym "Splinter". This, and the following Archie TMNT Adventures Comics, is the only origin story in the TMNT franchise where the Turtles come to Yoshi before being exposed to mutagen. Also, Yoshi becomes a rat, whereas in most other versions, he is Yoshi's pet rat that becomes humanoid. This is also the only version in which the Turtles become fully grown immediately after exposure to the mutagen, whereas Splinter raises them from infancy in other versions.

Yoshi adopts the four turtles as his sons and trains them in the art of ninjitsu. He names them after his favorite Italian renaissance artists: Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo), Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (Donatello), Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael), and Michelangelo Buonarroti (Michelangelo). In most versions, the Turtles tend to go by nicknames Leo, Donny, Raph and Mikey, but in this version they are always addressed by their full names. Each Ninja Turtle wears a mask over his eyes with a distinctive color, and is trained in the art of a distinct weapon.

Meanwhile, Oroku Saki has left Japan and tracked Yoshi to New York City, where he intends to destroy him once and for all. He has become associated with Krang, a disembodied alien brain who has been banished from his home, Dimension X, where he was a great warlord. Saki has taken on a new persona, donning a suit covered with razor spikes, complimented by a long cape, and a metal mask over his mouth. He has also taken on the pseudonym "The Shredder".

It becomes clear in the ninth season that the mutagen that transformed the Turtles and Splinter into their new forms was dumped into the sewer by Shredder in an effort to destroy Yoshi. Shredder thought it was a deadly poison. The Turtles vow to take revenge on the Shredder for dishonoring their master, as well as turning him into a rat. The Turtles want to force him to turn Splinter back into a human again, though this quickly evolves into stopping Shredder's ongoing criminal career with the aid of Channel 6 reporter April O'Neil. The Turtles begin to take on the role of vigilante crime-fighters operating outside of the jurisdiction of law enforcement against any criminals, much like Casey Jones in the third season. For the first couple of seasons, it seems as if the Turtles are constantly preoccupied with hiding their existence. This seems to be slowly relaxed and, by the last few seasons, most citizens seem to be well aware of them. They also frequently have to deal with citizens misunderstanding them, thanks to the efforts of Burne Thompson, April's employer, and Vernon Fenwick, a Channel 6 cameraman, who distrust the Turtles and frequently blame them for the trouble that the Shredder and Krang cause.

Shredder, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady (two street thugs morphed into animal form by exposure to the Shredder's mutagen) and a small army of robotic Foot Soldiers try to destroy the Turtles and take over the World. Much of their quest for world domination hinges on bringing the Technodrome (Krang's mobile fortress, and his and The Shredder's base of operation) to the surface as it was either stuck in the earth's core, Dimension X, the arctic or Arctic Ocean.

In the last two seasons of the show, the Turtles finally banish The Shredder and Krang to Dimension X. They destroy the engines and the "trans-dimensional portal" of the Technodrome preventing them from ever returning to Earth. The show, which had already lasted well past the average lifespan of most Saturday morning cartoon series, then went through dramatic changes. The animation became darker and closer to the original comic book style, the color of the sky in each episode changed from the traditional blue to a continuous and ominous dark-red sky (which was commonplace with newer action-oriented children's programming at that time), the theme song was changed, the introduction sequence added in clips from the first film, and the show took on a darker, more action-oriented atmosphere.

A new villain, Lord Dregg, an evil alien warlord, also appears as their new chief nemesis. Lord Dregg begins a propaganda campaign against the Turtles, turning the general population against them and in favor of him and his forces. In the last episode of the series, the Turtles trap Dregg in Dimension X.

In 2009, the Turtles, Shredder, Krang and various other characters from the 1987 series returned for the 25th anniversary crossover movie Turtles Forever, in which they meet up with their counterparts from the 2003 series. Due to legal reasons, none of the original voice actors were able to reprise their roles, and replacement actors were used instead.


While the story diverged heavily from the original conception of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and has never been considered canon with the universe of the original Mirage comics, the 1987 television series is probably the most notable and popular incarnation, and drove the franchise to the phenomenal status it would achieve in pop culture. The series was in production for nine years, and was still quite popular when it went out of production. It was responsible for introducing many of the catch phrases associated with the Turtles, such as "Cowabunga!", "Heroes in a half-shell!" and "Turtle Power!", into the lexicon. The animated series was such a prominent part of the Ninja Turtles that many people consider it the definitive and canonical version.

In 2009, IGN ranked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the 55th greatest animated show of all time in their Top 100 list.[5]


This version is also renowned for its critically acclaimed soundtrack. Through most of the series, the episodes featured a background music which reflected the mood of the situation (e.g. danger, action, exploration, confusion, mystery, winning), as well as ID music for settings such as the Technodrome, the sewers, Channel 6, etc. which contributes to the show's dynamic uniqueness. The soundtrack was composed by Dennis Challen Brown (credited as "D.C. Brown" and later as "Dennis C. Brown") and Chuck Lorre. Lorre penned the famous theme song and became a successful television producer.


These are the core characters of the series and appear in nearly every episode for the first eight seasons. After season eight, only the Turtles, April, and Splinter were retained as main characters, although Shredder and Krang returned for several episodes in season ten.

  • Leonardo (voiced by Cam Clarke in US, Bill Wise in Europe and Canada), the blue-masked turtle, wields two Katanas. He is the leader of the team and is the closest to Splinter.
  • Donatello, (voiced by Barry Gordon), the purple-masked turtle, wields a Bo staff (often used to disarm adversaries). He is the scientist of the team and is constantly tinkering with various inventions.
  • Raphael (voiced by Rob Paulsen), the red-masked turtle, wields two sai (which makes him a match for any swordsman). He is the jokester of the team and often comes out with sarcastic and witty remarks.
  • Michelangelo (voiced by Townsend Coleman), the orange-masked turtle, wields the whirling Nunchakus and later a grappling hook (and often whirling pizzas). He is the most relaxed member of the team and is the source for many of the catch phrases of the series such as "Cowabunga!"
  • Splinter (voiced by Peter Renaday), a strict and wizened sensei, is the mutant rat who trained the Turtles in ninjitsu.
  • April O'Neil (voiced by Renae Jacobs), a redheaded TV reporter, discovers the Turtles' home in the sewers and befriends the TMNT.
Shredder as seen in the opening credits.

Vehicles and gadgetry

Like many cartoon superheroes, the Turtles have a wide array of turtle-themed vehicles and gadgets.



  • Turtle Van (also known as the Party Wagon): A van that originally belonged to Baxter Stockman before he was arrested. Donatello rigged up the van with other equipment from Stockman's lab, including various monitoring devices and missile systems. The Turtle Van, despite having bright yellow and green colors and being very conspicuous, is the Turtles' main form of transportation. April used a van in the third issue of the original Mirage comic. The Battle Shell in the 2003 series is similar to the Turtle Van. It is apparently based on an early Dodge forward-control van, due to its split windshield and engine under the front seats.
  • Turtle Blimp: A blimp created by Donatello in the season one finale is one of the Turtles' modes of transportation. The blimp had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles logo displayed prominently on the side. The glider can detach from the blimp to allow the Turtles better accessibility where a large blimp would be impractical. This vehicle gets destroyed in the red-sky series.
  • Cheap Skates: Donatello made four skateboards in season two with propellers on the rear.
  • Turtle Bike: A motorcycle with a sidecar, normally ridden by Leonardo, first seen in season three.
  • Sewer Tubes
  • Sewerski


  • Turtle Comm: Turtle Communicators (frequently shortened to Turtle Comms) are small and designed to look like turtle shells, and were created by Donatello. The Turtles, Splinter, and April each have one and can instantly communicate with each other. The Turtles' and Splinter's communicators stretch open where April's is built with a flip top to resemble a makeup compact. Zach, a fan of the Turtles, gets a Turtle Comm in the episode The Fifth Turtle. Even the Punk Frogs have a Turtle Comm. Krang, Shredder, and the henchmutants each have a Comlink, a similar device for communication. A device called the Shell Cell, which bears a strong resemblance to the Turtle Comm, is used in the 2003 television series.
  • Retro catapult: Introduced in Season 3.
  • Portable portal generator: Also introduced in Season 3.
  • The plunger gun
  • Pizza thrower


The logo in the edited UK opening sequence, which was also used in a few other countries.

In the UK, TMNT was released under the name Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (TMHT). This was due to the controversy surrounding ninjas and related weapons such as nunchuks at the time. The intro sequence was heavily edited because of this, replacing the word ninja with hero or fighting, using a digitally faded logo instead of the animated blob, and removing any scenes in which Michelangelo wields his nunchuks, replacing them with random clips from the show.[6]

The TMHT version was aired in other European countries, including Belgium, Germany, Austria, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, in local dubs (the Finnish version was in English with subtitles, while Polish was in English with a lector). In Denmark the English censored version was aired on the national broadcaster TV2. It had subtitles as well, however, only season 2 and 3 were aired in this fashion. Season 1 was aired as one spliced movie, instead of the original five part miniseries. The movie was titled "how it all began", and included heavy edits from each of the five episodes.

After the 2 seasons had aired on Danish TV, the show was canceled, however it later returned with local dubs of episodes from season 5, and Denmark was also one of the first countries to get to see the episodes in which the turtles travel to Europe. These were also aired with subtitles.

The original series is currently airing in the early morning hours on TV2. All 193 episodes have been re-dubbed, and this time they aired in their original US unedited form.

Episodes in Spain, the name of the cartoon was translated to Las Tortugas Ninja (with the word ninja in the title), but at first the TMHT version was still used for dubbing, although the original TMNT version was also alternatively aired. Other European countries (including Bulgaria, France, Italy, and Russia) dubbed the original TMNT version.

In Ireland, the series was initially known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the intro sequence was unedited when it debuted with the airing of the second season. After the first two episodes were broadcast, the name was changed to Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and the intro was edited.

When shown on the BBC, phrases like "Let's kick some shell!" and "Bummer!" were removed from the episodes. The series Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation was also referred to as Hero Turtles, possibly using the term hero to separate the television series from the live action movies. The 2003 television series, however, remained intact when shown in the UK and Ireland. This led the UK and Ireland to have a disambiguation between the two animated series, using Hero Turtles to separate the 1987 television series from the other incarnations of the franchise. In 2009, a DVD of the first two seasons was released under the Ninja Turtles branding, thus bringing this version of the franchise into line with the later versions.

Status of the TMNT 1987 television series

Except from Super Écran who rebroadcast the entire series recently (2006 to 2008), there are currently no TV reruns of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series in North America. Although its last episode to be broadcast on CBS aired on November 2, 1996, reruns continued to air until August 16, 1997.[7] The show has not aired anywhere else since. Reruns had also aired on the USA Network's USA Cartoon Express from September 13, 1993 to September 15, 1996. Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Fred Wolf Films own the rights to the show, and they have been responsible for the DVD releases. Mirage Studios does not own the rights of the 1987 television series, so Lionsgate, Fred Wolf, nor CBS are under no obligation to inform them of future releases.[8] Many episodes were released on many VHS tapes from 1988 to 1996 by Family Home Entertainment. Some reruns were shown for UK audiences on CBBC weekday mornings. In the Republic of Ireland, the series ended its original run on August 8, 1998, but the show is still regularly rerun on RTÉ Two.[9]


In January 2009, IGN named TMNT as the 55th best show in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows.[5]

Voice cast

Character Voice actor
Leonardo Cam Clarke
Bill Wise (UK)
Raphael Rob Paulsen
Thom Pinto (1989 alternate)
Hal Rayle (1993 alternate)
Michael Gough (1996)
Michelangelo Townsend Coleman
Donatello Barry Gordon
Greg Berg (1989 alternate)
Master Splinter Peter Renaday
Townsend Coleman (1991 alternate)
April O'Neil Renae Jacobs
Krang Pat Fraley
Townsend Coleman (1989 alternate)
Shredder James Avery
Dorian Harewood (1989 alternate)
Jim Cummings (1991/1993 alt)
Townsend Coleman (1993 alt)
William E. Martin (1994/1996)
Rocksteady Cam Clarke
Bebop Barry Gordon
Greg Berg (1989 alternate)
Baxter Stockman Pat Fraley
Rat King Townsend Coleman
Leatherhead Jim Cummings
Peter Renaday (1993)
Casey Jones Pat Fraley
Irma Jennifer Darling
Vernon Fenwick Pat Fraley (1987)
Peter Renaday
Burne Thompson Pat Fraley
Townsend Coleman (1989 Alternate)
Zach Rob Paulsen
General Traag Peter Renaday
Barney Stockman Pat Fraley

DVD releases

Region 1

Lionsgate Home Entertainment has released the series on DVD in Region 1, currently up to seasons 1–8. Initially it was released in volumes, with each volume containing 9-13 episodes in production order, with the exception of the first volume, which included bonus episodes from the last season. After six volumes, it was announced that the series would now be released in season sets, starting with season 4. However, the later sets are not complete seasons. The episodes "Once Upon a Time Machine" and the 1991 prime-time special "Planet of the Turtleoids" continue to not be a part of any season set to date. Season 7 was released as four separate DVDs, marketed as slices, each including a figurine of one of the turtles; the entire season was later re-released as a complete set without figurines.[10]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Volume 1 9 April 20, 2004 Contains all 5 episodes of season 1 and 4 bonus episodes from season 10
Volume 2 13 April 26, 2005 Contains all 13 episodes of season 2
Volume 3 12 December 6, 2005 Contains episodes 1-12 from season 3
Volume 4 April 4, 2006 Contains episodes 13-24 from season 3
Volume 5 August 29, 2006 Contains episodes 25-36 from season 3
Volume 6 December 5, 2006 Contains episodes 37-47 from season 3 and the first episode of season 4
Season 4 40 March 13, 2007 Contains all 13 syndicated episodes from Season 4 (including the first episode, which already appears on Volume 6), all 26 CBS episodes from Season 4 and one of the final two syndicated episodes of which aired in Season 5, but were left from Season 4.
  • All new interviews with James Avery (the voice of Shredder) and Pat Fraley (the voice of Krang/Slash)
  • Fresh from the Oven: A Recipe for a Cowabunga Cheese Pizza, Fit for a Ninja Turtle
Season 5 18 August 7, 2007 Contains all episodes from Season 5, except "Once Upon a Time Machine" and "Planet of the Turtleoids". Part 1 and 2
  • "The Turtles: A Ninjatastic Look Back" featuring all new-interviews with Barry Gordon (Donatello), Rob Paulsen (Raphael), Cam Clarke (Leonardo) and Townsend Coleman (Michelangelo).
  • "Under The Shell" with Usagi Yojimbo (interview with Townsend Coleman) and Baxter Stockman.
Season 6 16 April 8, 2008 Contains all 16 episodes from Season 6.
Season 7 27 May 12, 2009, and November 3, 2009 Contains all 27 episodes from Season 7
  • Earlier release was 4 separate DVDs, each including a turtle figurine.
  • Later release contained entire season.
Season 8 8 September 1, 2009[11][12] Contains all 8 episodes from Season 8.
Season 9 8 TBA Contains all 8 episodes from Season 9.
Season 10 8 TBA Contains all 8 episodes from Season 10.

Region 2

The first volume of the 25th Anniversary Edition, containing all episodes from the first two seasons in a PAL format, has recently been released on Region 2 DVDs by Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

DVD Name Ep # DVD # Release Date Additional Information
Season 1-2 22 3 May 25, 2009 Contains all episodes from seasons 1 and 2, plus 4 bonus episodes from season 10.

The series has also been released by German distributor KSM GmbH.

DVD Name Ep # DVD # Release Date Additional Information
DVD Collection 24 5 May 17, 2007, July 26, 2007, and August 17, 2007 Contains all episodes from season 8, 9 and 10.
  • First released in 5 Single DVDs entitled "Disks"
  • Later released as a DVD Collection containing this 5 Disks
  • Both, the Single Release and the Collection only includes the German Audio Track
Box 1 25 5 March 12, 2009 Contains all episodes from seasons 1 and 2, plus first 7 episodes from Season 3.
  • Contains the German Hero Turtles TV Version and the Uncut US Version as well
Box 2 25 5 May 3, 2010 Contains 25 more episodes from Season 3.
Box 3 30 6 August 2010 Contains 30 more episodes from the series.

Region 4

The Series is being released in Australia by Sony Pictures.

DVD Name Ep # DVD # Release Date Additional Information
Volume 1 9 1 2009 Includes the complete first Season and the first four episodes from Season 2.
Volume 2 13 2 2009 Includes the 9 left episodes from Season 2 and the first four from Season 3.
Volume 3 12 2 2009 Includes the episodes 5 to 16 from Season 3.
Volume 4 12 2 2009 Includes the episodes 17 to 28 from Season 3.
Volume 5 12 2 2009 Includes the episodes 29 to 40 from Season 3.
Volume 6 12 2 2009 Includes the episodes 41 to 47 from Season 3, the first episode from Season 4 and the first four episodes from the European Vacation Sideseason.
Volume 7 13 2 2009 Includes the episodes 5 to 13 from the European Vacation Sideseason and the episodes 2 to 5 from Season 4.
Volume 8 13 2 2009 Includes the episodes 6 to 18 from Season 4.
Volume 9 13 2 2009 Includes the episodes 19 to 31 from Season 4.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Magazine is a children's magazine published quarterly by Welsh Publishing Group, Inc during the height of TMNT popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was officially licensed by Eastman and Laird and available by subscription.

The $1.95, 32-page magazine featured articles about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a variety of other subjects, including an article on the last page of each issue spotlighting a real life turtle species. Mirage Studios staff artists such as Dan Berger and Jim Lawson provided a majority of the covers and spot illustrations. A pullout poster was available in every issue and was painted by Mirage Studios artist Michael Dooney.


External links

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Box artwork for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Developer(s) Konami
Publisher(s) Ultra Games, Konami
Japanese title 激亀忍者伝
Release date(s)
Wii Virtual Console
Genre(s) Platform
System(s) NES, Commodore Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, MSX, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Wii Virtual Console
Players 1
ESRB: Everyone
PEGI: Ages 7+
OFLC: General
Followed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (arcade)
Series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This is the first game in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. For other games in the series see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles category.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a platform game that was first released in the US for the NES. It was the first TMNT game, and had alternate names for both the EU and Japanese releases (Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Gekikame Ninja Den (激亀忍者伝 ? "Fierce Turtle Ninja Legend") respectively).


Table of Contents

Getting Started

editTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles · Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (arcade) (II: The Arcade Game) · Fall of the Foot Clan · The Manhattan Missions · The Manhattan Project · Back from the Sewers · Turtles in Time · The Hyperstone Heist · Radical Rescue · Tournament Fighters (NES)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (GBA) · Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) (2: Battle Nexus, 3: Mutant Nightmare) · Mutant Melee · Fast Forward: Ninja Training NYC · Power of 4 · TMNT (GBA) · Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (XBLA) · Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up


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