RANKING 35 VERSIONS OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (20-14)
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 entries below!
20 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (1993/ 1994 – depending on console)
Some people call “Tournament Fighters” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: V,” as the final installment of the Konami Ninja Turtle series.
I do not.
The game is a rapid departure from the other Konami games. Where previous installments were side-scrolling beat-em-ups, this was a fighting game. Released on Nintendo, followed by SNES and Genesis, this brawler gave tons of character options and fun backdrops to take out your friends. There was a single player mode that worked like a traditional tournament brawl. Overall, it’s a really fun game.
But it’s not TMNT:5.
19 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (1991)
“Manhattan Project” is the only game in the Konami Series to go straight to console without an arcade version first. Unfortunately, the game suffers because of it.
Limiting the playing options to 2 characters as opposed to 4, and usually encountering a bit of glitching, this version was a bit behind the other games in the series. Each turtles perks, like Donnie’s reach or Raph’s power seems to go away.
And the Triceratons are on the box but not in the game.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Ghostbusters (2014 – 2015)
With both properties hitting their respective 30th anniversaries, IDW released a crossover event I never knew I wanted.
The turtles get sucked in to another dimension (this really happens to them a lot) they find this universe is like their own, but over run by ghosts. They fight through the city to find their way back and save the multiverses! Also, Casey Jones gets possessed and it’s everything I want in the crossover.
The comic, in addition to the crossover toy series, makes this a long overdue team up.
17 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Image Comics (1996 – 1999)
Volume 3 of the ongoing TMNT series is, unfortunately, no longer considered canon. I think I know why.
The series was very heavy on action. It’s fast, it’s gritty, and it’s way 90’s. There’s lots of blood. Muscles are huge and veiny. And the turtles undergo a lot of physical transformations. Donatello becomes part cyborg. So, yeah, I get why it’s no longer canon.
But the series still released 23 issues before its premature cancellation. Recently, though, IDW released reissues and wrapped up some long unfinished story lines. The conclusions remain very 90’s.
16 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 – 2010)
After the almost slapstick comedy of the 1987 series, the new animated series wanted to take a more serious approach. The jokes were traded for action in a very different relaunch.
The characters are even more menacing, with only whites for eyes. The series follows a bit more of the Mirage comic series, especially in tone. There was still plenty of comedy to keep younger viewers engaged, but this is definitely aimed more for teenagers.
The show was tasked with one of the first major relaunches of the series for a TV audience. Instead of continuing with something more kid friendly, they went back to their roots and evolved for the next generation. In some cases, the same, now older generation. The characters look almost like the original Playmates line of figures, and I don’t think it was an accident.
15 – TMNT (2007)
In their first foray in to computer animation and their return to the big screen, the turtles return with a high energy, and frankly under rated, film.
The turtles have grown apart after defeating the Shredder. Leo is in Central America to train, Raph is a night vigilante, Donnie works as tech support, and Mikey wears a Cowabunga Carl costume for kids birthdays. After returning, Leonardo needs to bring his family closer together, despite being partially responsible for them drifting apart.
I love the character designs here. This feels like the most “Ninja” the Ninja Turtles have ever been. The brothers all fight, like families do. But, they came together at the end. Because they’ll always be brothers. The new villains are scary, but I wish they had used an existing bad guy here. We got our first look at Karai on the big screen and I love the mystical element that gets added.
Some of the animation is a bit outdated by today’s standards (mostly in the human characters) but we get a pre-Captain America Chris Evans voicing Casey Jones.
14 – Batman/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2015 – Current)
Keep in mind, this is listed BEFORE the release of the upcoming animated movie. So that already shows the quality of this crossover comic.
I love Batman, and I love the Ninja Turtles. It’s a match that makes sense and I’m glad it’s become as popular as it has. Both heroes fight crime in the shadows, and first they have an uneasy alliance. But fighting through Batman’s rogues gallery in Gotham forces a partnership we’ve all wanted.
The entire project is worth it for the Kevin Eastman variant covers and artwork featuring some of Batman’s finest, but the story is fun and the story is engaging. A third installment of the comic is on the way for May of this year. And, the full length animated crossover movie is coming to digital and Blu Ray this spring!
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, and #27 – 21 here!