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Rob Paulsen Says Nickelodeon’s TMNT is the ‘Purest Iteration’

After 30 years as a voice actor and over a decade of experience with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rob Paulsen has become one of the most important names connected to the franchise. He helped to craft the characterization of Raphael that we know and love from the original animated series and he has continued his work as Donatello in Nickelodeon’s TMNT cartoon today. His work on both versions of the Ninja Turtles has produced some rather unique interpretations of the turtles, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he recently had some interesting things to say about the franchise.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Paulsen said that Nickelodeon’s vision of the turtles was the “purest iteration to date,” stating that the show has benefited from having a cast and crew that grew up with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons and films. He went on to say the following:


“Being the original character on any show biz enterprise is a cool thing. We were there when it was a clean sheet of a paper; then, 25 years later, to get another crack at it is a cool thing in its own way, so it’s pretty difficult to choose. They both have their incredibly wonderful aspects.”


So clearly Paulsen has love and respect for both the original animated series and Nick’s interpretation, but it would appear that he prefers the newer version simply because it was made with love and an understanding of the franchise that simply didn’t exist in 1987. Heck, at that point in time, even Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird probably didn’t know exactly how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would evolve (or should we say mutate?) over the years.

Unfortunately, when asked about the original films, Paulsen didn’t seem too happy with them. Before you cry fowl, it’s important to understand why he had a slight problem with the 90’s TMNT movies. When asked about the darker tone of these projects, he had the following to say:

“Yes, it did bother me because I knew the audience was essentially kids. When I say bothered, that is with a small ‘b’. It didn’t make me go ‘Oh no!’ I knew – we all knew – the characters were the stars and there was not one 8-year-old who stood outside the movie theater who said ‘I’m not going to see this movie, Rob Paulsen is not the voice of Raph!”


When you think about the way that Rob portrays his turtles, this actually makes perfect sense. After all, his Raphael is much more reasonable than other interpretations and his Donatello is a lovestruck geek. His cartoonish outbursts are some of the best in the business, but they also serve as proof that one need not get vulgar in order to show emotion.

One could easily point out that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began as a dark and brooding independent comic, but when there are a lot of kids out there enjoying the franchise, it makes sense to take a more balanced approach. Although I’m sure plenty of fans disagree with Rob on this point, I doubt any of them would be upset with him for sharing his feelings on the subject. After all, he has meant so much to the Ninja Turtles universe that he is deserving of at least that much respect.

What do you think? Is Nickelodeon’s iteration of TMNT the best interpretation to date? Were the original movies too dark and violent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

The Author

Justin W

Justin W

My name is Justin Wren and I love to write about the TMNT! I've been a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan since the late 80's. Back then, I would watch the original animated series and play with the Playmates toys all the time. I have been following the boys ever since I was a kid, and I'm very happy to see them back in the limelight after all these years. Needless to say, I'm proud to be a member of the team on this awesome TMNT Fan Site!

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