TMNT The Foot Clan Biography
Weapon: Katana, Bo Staff, Shuriken, Kunai
Inspired By: The Hand (from Elektra by Marvel Comics)
Personality: Silent, Obedient
Shredder – Leader
Krang – Commander (1987)
Karai – Commander (Comic/2003/2012)
Hamato Yoshi – Former Leader
The Foot Clan traces its legacy to feudal Japan. Forever a group shrouded in mystery, the Foot has branched from the island nation and now serves as an international criminal organization perpetrating some of the world’s greatest illegal activities at the order of its master, Oroku Saki – also known as the Shredder. Despite its lineage and training in ninjutsu, the Foot Clan’s greatest strength is its overwhelming size, easily able to send hundreds of fighters into battle behind any general at a moment’s notice. Its biggest challenge lies in defeating worthy foes like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Constantly a thorn in the master’s side, the Foot fights tirelessly to kill the turtles and their rat master. Numbers alone should make that an easy task, but the turtles continue to best them at every turn. Nothing will sway the soldiers from their mission, though, and the Foot will continue to tighten its stranglehold all over the globe.
In the original comic, two men named Sato and Oshi started the Foot Clan. Their master was none other than Raphael, having traveled back in time. Raph taught both men ninjutsu, and they pursued the discipline on their own after he left. The Foot sprang from their efforts behind Oshi’s credo: “We must never again mention the strange shelled creatures. In time, others will join us and we will become a force to be reckoned with. So just as every journey begins with a single step… we shall call ourselves The Foot.” As the Foot Clan grew, other notable members joined its ranks. Among them were Hamato Yoshi, Oroku Nagi, and Oroku Saki. Yoshi was banished from the clan when he killed Nagi in a dispute over the woman Tang Shen. Saki would go on to take command of the organization and kill Yoshi, but later found himself facing Yoshi’s pet rat, Splinter. The Foot eventually moved its base of operations to America, but was thrown into disarray when the turtles killed Shredder (Saki). Eventually, Leonardo and the others helped to organize the group under the Japanese general, Karai, ending the in-fighting and the long battle between the two groups.
The 1987 series gave the Foot a brand new story. It was a ninjutsu clan founded in 1583 in Japan. Both Oroku Sancho and Hamato Koji wished to lead their own group of warriors, and were influenced by the turtles and Shredder (having gone back in time). Sancho and Koji were seeking the same mystic artifact, which released a dragon on the world. While the turtles faced off against Shredder and Sancho, Koji and Splinter tamed the dragon, and Koji rounded up Sancho’s men to become the first Foot Clan. In the 1960s, Oroku Saki and Hamato Yoshi joined the clan themselves, but Yoshi was disgraced and exiled to America. Saki rose through the ranks and took command of the organization, leading it to New York City. Once the group was firmly established in its new home, Shredder stopped using actual men and began mass-producing android Foot soldiers to do his bidding (a major digression from the source material).
In 2003, the Foot Clan returned with another new origin story. Ch’rell (the Utrom who called himself the Shredder) started the Foot in Japan 1,700 years prior, and led it ever since. Each soldier wore a red dragon-like footprint, representing the inverted symbol of the five warriors who defeated the original demon Shredder in 300 C.E. (from whom Ch’rell adopted the mantle). This Foot Clan has several tiers not introduced before, including the Foot Soldier, the Foot Tech Ninjas (who wore gear that enhanced their natural abilities), the Foot Mystics (five magic wielders who commanded the elements of fire, water, wind, earth, and metal), and Elite Foot Ninja (Shredder’s personal guards). While Shredder commands the clan as a whole, members also operate under his generals Karai and Hun.
The 2012 Foot Clan again came from Japan and was commanded by Shredder. The group was buried in shadows, but Shredder believed his nemesis, Hamato Yoshi (Splinter), was training mutant ninjas against him, and ordered the Foot to kill the turtles at any cost. They were also at the disposal of Shredder’s generals – Karai, Dog Pound, and Fish Face.
The Foot Clan appeared in the first two films as an even further reaching criminal organization. The soldiers handled larger tasks assigned by Tatsu and Shredder, but also oversaw ground members recruited from the misunderstood and denizens of NYC (usually teenagers). The group did not appear in the third film, but resurfaced in TMNT, now under the command of Karai. With the city being attack and Karai not holding the same grudge as Shredder, the Foot aided the turtles in ultimately thwarting the inter-dimensional threat facing the city.
Every hero needs a group of henchmen to fight. If there were no minions, then the hero wouldn’t be able to gauge his or her own strength versus the average or ultimate villain. The turtles are each able to defeat dozens of average Foot ninjas in every battle because it needs to be clear to the audience that they are far superior to normal thugs, and there is then a benchmark to showcase the power of Shredder.
One thing to be respected by the various writers and artists in charge of the TMNT incarnations is that they have always explored as many aspects of the mythos as possible, right down to the origin story for a group that really wouldn’t suffer from just existing in the present. The back-story for most versions – with Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki being part of the group – is usually enough to satisfy all purposes of the version. However, it never hurts to dive a little deeper and show the audience just what this group is all about, and why it exists. If time travel is the way to accomplish that (because most American cartoons don’t like to show episodes that don’t involve the main or most popular characters), then so be it.
The 1987 version of the Foot is perhaps the silliest, but also the most sensible incarnation. Their bright purple outfits aren’t exactly menacing, but the robot angle does make sense from an executive’s standpoint (the heroes can “kill” robots). It also shows a modernization of the group that hasn’t been seen anywhere else. Yes, as the population of the planet balloons, there’s probably no shortage of recruitment prospects. But for the most part ninjas have faded away into history, and lost their position in the mainstream. What better way to bolster the ranks and maintain a battle-ready army than to build it? With Krang’s knowledge and inter-dimensional technology, such a task was simple enough, and gave Shredder an endless supply of warriors. The same principle could be accomplished in other versions, but substituting Baxter Stockman or others as the builder if needed.
The Foot Clan is an organization that will always be somewhat of a mystery in any series, regardless of the provided explanation. It has to be, or else it loses its mystique and fear that make it such a viable threat. Even if the turtles do find themselves easily overpowering the average soldier, the Foot will never be truly defeated, and will continue to rise again and again to serves its master’s wishes – destroy the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
In most versions, the Foot logo is a dragon’s footprint. However, the 1987 uses an actual human footprint emblazoned on every solider.
The 2003 version was the only incarnation where Hamato Yoshi (and, by association, Splinter) was not a part of the Foot Clan.
Very rarely has a member of the clan distinguished him or herself and been explicitly named. This suggests that the group training is adequate, but not good enough to allow any individual to challenge Shredder’s authority.