THIS YEAR THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ENTER THEIR 35TH ANNIVERSARY.
They’ve had some incredible highs, gaining accolade and admiration across multiple generations. They became pop culture icons, rocketing to become a household name. Producing comics, video games, tv shows, movies, and more, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a billion dollar franchise.
The franchise has also suffered lows on par with The Partridge Family’s “VH1 Behind the Music.”
To celebrate everyone’s favorite Heroes in a Half Shell, I’m ranking the 35 most notable versions of the turtles to date! Keep checking back to see where your favorite ranks. Not every version of the TMNT is listed, I kept it to the most notable 35. Did yours make the list? What’s your top 5? Let us know in the comments. And, in case you missed it, check out our other entry below!
27 – Injustice 2 DLC (2018)
The Injustice series is a fighting game that takes the Mortal Kombat formula and applies is to favorite DC characters. It’s a really fun game. Hellboy was a welcome addition to the franchise. But when they announced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would show up in a DLC pack? People lost their MINDS!
They only take up one character slot, but as you soon find out each turtle has a very distinct play style. As with many fighting games, some of the animation got a bit repetitive. But the addition was surprising and fun. This was even the first instance of TMNT showing up with DC characters, paving the way for the TMNT/Batman crossover.
The only real downside is that it wasn’t enough. The DLC made me and others wonder what a full length TMNT game would be like. I keep holding out for a Batman: Arkham style game featuring the turtles. Maybe one day.
26 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 – Turtles in Time (1993)
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3” is unfortunately the movie that killed off the turtles in theaters for 14 years.The costumes were downgraded and, while I love the concept of time travel in a Ninja Turtles project, this one made little to no sense.
Traveling back to feudal Japan, the turtles need to find their way back to the present. It’s a double fish-out-of-water story. The turtles already don’t blend in with humans, and now those humans are from the 1600’s.
Even with Casey Jones making a comeback, this is the worst movie of the original trilogy.
25 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Savage Dragon (1993-1999)
Erik Larson’s “Savage Dragon” has been a mainstay at Image Comics since it’s first publication in 1986. The green skinned mohawk finned crime fighter is a perfect fit to partner up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
With Larson writing and drawing the crossover, he focused a lot more on the teenage side of the turtles. They used bad language and were more crude than we’ve seen.
Larson was largely responsible for bringing the TMNT to Image from Mirage. He helped write several stories and had the Savage Dragon cross paths with the turtles several times during their Image run. While no longer part of the TMNT canon, Savage Dragon remains an important part of the history.
24 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Out of the Shadows (2016)
“Out of the Shadows” primary downfall is that it’s the sequel to the 2014 film. It’s a fun action movie. It has a ton of action and puts the turtles in a few new situations. The biggest highlight of the film is the addition of Bebop and Rocksteady. These characters are dead on. Party animals and hard criminals in human form, then the mutation turns them in to true party animals.
They add Krang, a glimpse at Dimension X, and a pre-fly Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry is so good as Baxter) which all help this feel like another TMNT universe. However, they had to stand by the decisions made by the 2014 film. They still looked the same. Meghan Fox still plays April. Will Arnett is still… there.
The personalities came through a little more and so did the humor. This felt like the movie turtles fans would truly want, if it weren’t weighed down by it’s predecessor’s mistakes.
23 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness Roleplaying Games (1985)
The TMNT roleplaying game is hugely important in Ninja Turtle History. You could play as a turtle, pre-existing human friend, or create your own mutant.
Perhaps most notable about “… & Other Strangeness” is that this is the first ever Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle officially licensed product! Because of this, Playmates Toys took noticed and eventually struck a deal for action figures. So, while I’m not sure how many people played the game, it’s importance in TMNT history can’t be understated.
22 -First Drawing Ever (1984)
This is the very first drawing of a Ninja Turtle. This was before they were teens, before they were brothers. It was a simple, black and white drawing that started as a joke between friends. Later becoming Michelangelo, this turtle would go on to become a global hit and billion dollar franchise. It’s only low on this list because it’s unfortunately only a drawing. There’s no story yet. No brothers or Master Splinter. This is just an inkling of an incredible 35 year journey.
21 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures – Archie Comics (1988 – 1995)
The Archie Comics publication started as a companion to the 1987 cartoon series. However, after getting new writers after the fifth issue, they started making their own stories and characters to add to the TMNT lore.
Yes, this is the series that created Slash and the Mighty Mutanimals.
The series ran for 72 issues and, until the IDW series surpassed it in 2017, it was the longest running TMNT comic series. They crossed paths with Archie and the gang a few times and fought weird mutant. It was, shockingly, a great series.
Fun fact, one of the writer’s also wrote the acclaimed “Puma Blues.”
KEEP CHECKING BACK BECAUSE WE HAVE A LOT MORE TO GO!
Do you agree with the list so far? I can’t wait to see the comments on this one! Let us know what you think and where your favorites stack up. And don’t forget to see what we picked for #35-28 here!