Twenty Things New Fans Need to Know About TMNT

With a franchise like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there are new adventures that constantly reinvent the story from beginning to end.  This is great for seasoned fans, because it adds to the rich mythos surrounding the heroes, and makes sure that they are never gone for too long.  Of course, it’s also awesome for brand new fans, because it means every day people who have just discovered Raphael and his brothers can become part of the fandom and stay there forever.  But, joining a fandom like this one requires having a little background information to help ease the transition (and provide more TMNT goodness for exploration).  So whether you’re brand new to the franchise or a seasoned veteran, here are 20 things you need to know about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:


  1. The Ninja Turtles are turning 31 years old in 2015, and were created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird;
  2. The turtles were meant to be a spoof on other dark superhero comics, such as Marvel’s Daredevil title;
  3. TMNT has spawned three animated series, four live-action movies, a live-action series, two animated movies, and several different comic book series, and each one offers a unique twist on the reptiles’ tale;
  4. The four main characters were named for Italian Renaissance artists;
  5. The young boy who dropped his pet turtles down a storm drain was named Chet Manley;
  6. There have been several attempts to make a fifth ninja turtle in the franchise, including Kirby, Zach, Metalhead, and Venus de Milo;
  7. Several TMNT characters have been given their own spin-off attempts, including a new team of mutants called the Mighty Mutanimals;
  8. Ninjutsu (practiced by all the turtles) requires mastery of 18 disciplines, so even the most advanced turtle – Leonardo – is not yet close to being a ninja master;
  9. The turtles were given two Japan only specials that took some of the conventions of anime and applied them to TMNT (such as channeling power and mystic armor);
  10. In the various incarnations, Master Splinter is either a mutated rat or a human mutated into a rat;
  11. The Ninja Turtles have fought side-by-side with both the Ghost Busters and the Power Rangers;
  12. Donatello is co-creator Peter Laird’s favorite character;
  13. In the Image comic series three of the four turtles (everyone but Michelangelo) were disfigured, scarred, or had parts replaced with machinery due to injuries incurred on the job;
  14. Despite being famously known as a news reporter, April O’Neil began as a scientist and computer programmer working for the turtles’ enemy Baxter Stockman;
  15. In the Mirage comics, Casey Jones and April O’Neil have an adopted daughter named Shadow;
  16. The turtles have famously appeared in several Pizza Hut promotions, tying in with the live-action movie releases;
  17. More than just ninjas, the turtles can also sing and dance, and did so during their own live concert tour;
  18. Certain elements of the turtle franchise have been censored overseas in the past, such as using the word “ninja” and Michelangelo’s nunchaku;
  19. Krang is a former military leader from Dimension X, and he still has control over his rock soldier minions, even when stuck on Earth;
  20. At one time, the turtles all wore red bandanas, and the colors were switched during the 1987 animated series so kids could more easily tell the turtles apart.


So there you have it.  It’s most certainly not an exhaustive list, but with this little extra bit of TMNT knowledge, there are countless avenues to explore for deeper engagement with the franchise!

The Author

Zach Gasior

Zach Gasior

Zach Gasior is an author and English professor at Baton Rouge Community College in Louisiana. His short stories have been published around the world, and he has two non-fiction books in print. He has contributed articles to several different sites, and has been a fan of the turtles since he was two years old, and his favorite ninja turtle is Raphael.

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