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Is The Future Bright for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Our heroes in a half shell have had a pretty difficult year. As 2016 began, fans were excited about the prospects of an entirely new video game and movie. Nickelodeon had begun production on the fifth season of their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and there was reason to be excited about the future of the turtles. Sadly, as the year comes to an end, the outlook for this franchise isn’t excellent. Paramount’s Out of the Shadows bombed, Mutants in Manhattan failed to impress most audiences, and Nickelodeon is reportedly considering the cancellation of their TMNT animated series.

With so much negativity surrounding the franchise, it doesn’t look like 2017 will hold much promise for the turtles. That being said, something tells me that this could be the year that turns everything around for our boys in green. Here are a few reasons to remain hopeful for the future of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

The Return of Usagi Yojimbo

One of many Usagi Yojimbo comics from Stan Sakai. Image Source: Fantagraphics.
One of many Usagi Yojimbo comics from Stan Sakai. Image Source: Fantagraphics.
Although Nickelodeon may cancel their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon after the fifth season, there’s always a possibility that they will continue the franchise in some other fashion.

Stan Sakai has confirmed that Usagi Yojimbo will appear in Nick’s TMNT, and we have seen evidence that this may just be the beginning of a resurgence for the Rabbit Ronin.

The first hint of Miyamoto Usagi’s return came in the form of a logo which appeared at a Playmates Toys event. This logo indicated that the character might get his own toy line, but the reality might be far more interesting. What if the end of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brings about the beginning of an animated Usagi Yojimbo series?

Other than the aforementioned logo, there is no real reason to expect that this might happen – but it’s still fun to imagine the possibilities.

Nickelodeon Wouldn’t Just Dump the Franchise

Although some fans insist that Ciro Nieli only had plans for five seasons of the animated series, something tells me that the fifth season won’t be the last TMNT property to receive investment from Nickelodeon. In the past few years, they have experimented with a variety of different concepts such as the Half-Shell Heroes animated special which found the turtles traveling back in time and befriending dinosaurs. There was no indication that these experiments were not successful, so it could be that they were looking to prove that this franchise can easily branch out.

The potential end to Nick's TMNT is definitely a shocker, because there have been no indications that this would happen anytime soon. Image Source: Nickelodeon.
The potential end to Nick’s TMNT is definitely a shocker, because there have been no indications that this would happen anytime soon. Image Source: Nickelodeon.

Although Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series may soon come to an end, there’s very real potential that it could be replaced with a different TMNT project. In addition to the possibility of a Usagi Yojimbo animated series, it’s entirely feasible that Nieli’s success with the franchise convinced Nick to give him the reigns of a spin-off series. Why would they cancel one of their most popular cartoons if they didn’t have something to replace the show? Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of the turtles on Nickelodeon.

Viacom Will Be Trying New Things

TMNT: Out of the Shadows Blu-ray. Image Source: Paramount Pictures.
TMNT: Out of the Shadows Blu-ray. Image Source: Paramount Pictures.
After the recent news that CBS would not be merging with Viacom, the stock value for this company has nearly dropped to the status of junk. Nobody is coming to the rescue, and it appears that the company will be on its own. If they really want to turn things around, it will be important for them to try new things. Thankfully, it would appear that the new CEO has big plans for the media conglomerate which include a more global approach.

What does a global approach mean? Well, just take a look at how they distributed Out of the Shadows. Paramount worked with the Chinese company Alibaba in order to distribute the film to a global audience. In the modern entertainment business, China represents perhaps the second largest market for film. If you need evidence of this, simply take note of how much money Warcraft earned in this market. If it weren’t for Chinese audiences, Warcraft would have been a bomb at the box office.

So what does this mean for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Well, when it comes to Paramount’s TMNT movies, chances are that Viacom is going to return to the drawing board. They will probably take a good look at movies which performed well in popular markets such as China and seek to aim their products more at these global audiences. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, but I’m personally hopeful that they come up with something far more agreeable than the last two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films from Platinum Dunes.

TMNT Toys and Collectibles are Still Popular

2016 saw the announcement of several popular Ninja Turtles collectibles and toys. Just when you thought the franchise might be losing steam, another toy company came out of nowhere with yet another awesome TMNT figure. Companies such as NECA, Playmates Toys, DreamEX, Prime 1 Studios and Good Smile produced plans for some of the most incredible TMNT collectibles we have ever seen. Something tells me that we wouldn’t see this much interest in the property unless there were a lot of fans buying these kinds of products.

Donatello introduces Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael to the 90's TMNT movie figure line. Image Source: NECA.
Donatello introduces Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael to the 90’s TMNT movie figure line. Image Source: NECA.

If even half of this merchandise sells well, chances are that we will continue to see these companies explore new ideas for TMNT collectibles and toys. I’ve already seen some figures indicating that at least Playmates Toys has been doing very well this year, so I’m confident that we will continue to see awesome Ninja Turtles action figures for many years to come.

TMNT Comics Probably Won’t Go Anywhere

Batman/TMNT Adventures variant cover art by Hilary Barta. Image Source: IDW, DC Comics/via CBR.
Batman/TMNT Adventures variant cover art by Hilary Barta. Image Source: IDW, DC Comics/via CBR.
When all else fails, we can always count on IDW to produce some amazing content. In the past few years, we’ve seen them create two crossovers with Batman which have both been wildly popular.

They’re also working on the Artisan Edition of the original Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics. Oh, and then there’s the Kevin Eastman Notebook Series, which provides a historical look at the origins of the TMNT. These are just a few of the projects they have been working on, and it looks like they’ve got big plans for many years to come.

Even if we don’t see a spinoff cartoon series or a new movie anytime soon, chances are that IDW will keep working with the turtles in perpetuity. No matter what happens with the franchise in any other respect, we can always rely upon the original realm of the turtles to keep their stories alive and well.

 

Are you hopeful for the future of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Have I made some valid points, or am I speculating a bit too much about the possibilities for our heroes in a half shell? Share your thoughts either in the comments below or on Facebook/Twitter.

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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