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. We’re in the homestretch now! 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.
Editor’s note: This list originally appeared as a series.
35 – WE WISH YOU A TURTLE CHRISTMAS (1994)
This shows that sometimes, even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are victims of their own celebrity. This straight to video is the worst version of the turtles. Worse than “Operation Blue Line,” worse than Venus DiMilo. The songs are awful but somehow stay lodged in your head for weeks after. Some scenes make you wonder if the TMNT murdered a group of teenagers.
You can find more of my thoughts HERE, but please understand if I never want to discuss “Turtle Christmas” again.
*Sings to self- “4 video games…” DAMN IT!
34 – OPERATION BLUE LINE (1990)
This is the only version of the TMNT that takes place in California. It was a VHS tape that promoted alternative travel systems like trains and buses. And that’s really it.
Sure it’s bad. The costumes don’t move at all and Donatello’s body is a different color than his limbs and head. But it has the voice cast for the original cartoon. And it’s only 10 minutes long. Eh.
33 – COMING OUT OF THEIR SHELLS TOUR (1990)
I feel like this is something I watched as a kid. Debuting at Radio City Music Hall, the tour utilized the turtles success to mix in Pizza Hut and pop music. I’m assuming they made a lot of money. Although the tour (and following home video) started about 3 months after the release of the original 1990 film.
However. The tour had a press tour. On the tour, they made a pit stop on Oprah. Again, this is 1990, so this is pre-President Oprah. President Oprah interviewed the turtles and Oprah, giving the future internet this wonderful bit.
The internet can be great. It can also be horrible. I’m still not sure where this lies.
32 – MUTANT TURTLES GAIDEN (1995)
Part reboot of the original cartoon, part original creation, Mutant Turtles Gaiden was never released in the West. It’s one of the few TMNT properties not released by one of the big homes of the Ninja Turtles. Instead, it was published by Dengeki Comics.
Many elements were inspired by the original cartoon, but remixed in to a Japanese style. For example, in the ’87 cartoon, there’s an episode where the turtles are being impostered by thieves wearing paper bags. In the manga, the imposters are death robots.
The designs are all interesting and features great artwork. Shredder’s costume has a mouth hole, which might be one of my favorite Shredder looks. However, there are a few… less savory moments. In the first issue, Bebop wears a trechcoat and flashes April and her friend. And anytime April is alone with one of the villains, it feels just… well gross. And horrible. Yikes. You can find some English translations online.
31-NEXT MUTATION (1997-1998)
Enter the now infamous Venus DeMilo.
Known mostly for the Power Rangers franchise, “Next Mutation” is supposed to be a loose continuation of the 2nd and 3rd movies. When I say loose, I mean the only similarities are the Lair and Splinter’s scars/
Shredder is still alive, but the turtles focus is now on an army of humanoid dragons know as “The Rank” led by the evil Dragonlord. Also, the turtles aren’t related by blood. Venus De Milo was in the same canister as the original 4 turtles, yet was still seperated from them at an early age. She still learned the art of ninja and joins her new brothers in combat.
The show only lasted 2 seasons, which is still long enough for a crossover with the Power Rangers. For the 2007 movie, Peter Laird had one direction. Don’t acknowledge Venus De Milo. Not even as a joke.
30 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/ FLAMING CARROT (1993-1994)
The Flaming Carrot is a surreal character in comics that has crossed paths with the Ninja Turtles on a few occasions. First I thought that the Flaming Carrot was a throwaway character that was a bit too weird, but then I remembered I write for a site covering Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so here we are.
The Flaming Carrot appeared alongside Raphael in the Mirage Era Flaming Carrot comics, as well as a limited crossover series. In his series, he fights alongside Raph who takes on the persona “The Dark Avenger.”
The Flaming Carrot was almost featured in the 2012 cartoon, but the idea was scrapped by Nickelodeon. Ut!
29 – MUTANT TURTLES: SUPERMAN LEGEND (1996)
I’ll do my best to describe this version of the Ninja turtles from Japan.
Based on character designs from the original 1987 cartoon, Mutant Turtles: Superman legend quickly deviates.
The Ninja Turtles were summoned by the Neutrinos. They need to find the Muta Stone, which will transform them in to Super Turtles, but only for 3 minutes. And when all 4 Super Turtles combine, they become Turtle Saint, a giant mech. There are also Dark Muta Stones which transform Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady.
Then, in episode 2, the turtles, April, and Shredder travel to Japan to exterminate a ghost from a haunted house. I love Japan.
28 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014)
Fans everywhere were excited to hear a new TMNT movie would finally come to theaters after a 7 year hiatus.
Then details started coming in.
The turtles were going to be aliens, bullet proof shells, and overall design choices were met with negative backlash leading up to the release. I felt like it largely fell flat , even with one of the more traditional Ninja Turtle stories. Shredder needs the turtles, turtles stop shredder and save Splinter/April. It felt like the movie wanted to celebrate the TMNT franchise, but tried adding in random bits of backstory for no reason other than to be different. April didn’t need to name the turtles. It’s fine, but it didn’t move anything forward. It feels like the Batman V Superman “Martha” moment. The personalities weren’t yet defined well enough and in a Ninja Turtles movie, it felt like we focus an awful lot on the humans in the story. Fine for comics and TV episodes, but in a movie I think you’d want more from your main characters.
The turtle appearance turned off most fans, myself included. It felt like they got the alien idea and ran with it. A fan on reddit posted a redesign on their noses, and I can’t help but wonder how different I’d have felt about the movie had they looked more like this.
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.”
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.
18 – 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!
13 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – NES (1989)
This game tested me at every turn. Known for it’s incredibly hard difficulty, this NES game still gets talked about today. Switching from top-down maps to side scroller, the game features plenty of enemies to drain your health and patience.
Perhaps the most notable is the infamous seaweed level. Playing as your turtle of choice, you dive in to the Hudson to navigate a maze of seaweed. During this, you need to deactivate a series of underwater bombs. And the entire thing is timed. It’s the trifecta of frustration.
I never beat it.
12 – RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2018 – CURRENT)
I can already feel the hate coming my way. But the show was tasked with completely reinventing the turtles universe, and succeeded.
They returned to hand drawn animation with bright neon colored backgrounds and a new collection of villains. There’s enough familiarity to it to remember why you loved the turtles, but is a huge departure from anything that came before it.
Yes, it’s different. That’s the point. The franchise needs to grow and evolve, and like each TV version before it, knows its audience. I feel like “RotTMNT” did exactly what the 1987 series did. It took the material before it and altered it to create a new universe for the current generation. Many adults probably feel how our parents felt when we were kids, and that’s exactly how it should be. It’s a fun show with an interesting story and great animation. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn’t going anywhere soon (it’s already renewed for a second season), and I’m excited to see where the series is headed.
11 – TURTLES FOREVER (2009)
I saw “Turtles Forever” before watching the 2003 series. This movie acts as the series finale, but you don’t need to see any of the series to love this. It celebrates everything the turtles offered the 25 years before it.
In it, the 2003 turtles come face to face with their past selves. Putting up with the constant cheesy jokes and quips from the ’87 cartoon turtles and the gritty death metal Mirage version, this TV movie truly showcased that the turtles could be any version the viewer wants. They showed other versions
This might be one of the first instances of a franchise putting effort in to explaining the different versions. Rather than shy away from the original cartoon or comics, “Turtles Forever” leans in to the idea that there are different dimensions with different turtles. This concept still exists even today, showing up as an Easter Egg recently in “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Some might even wonder if the film “In to the Spider-Verse” got a few ideas from the turtles, but we’ll never know.
10 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ARCADE GAME (1989)
I spent all my quarters on this game at the arcade. This game was a huge improvement from the original NES game. Now played on the arcade with a joystick, the 8-way controls allowed a new level of movement to open up new depths of gameplay.
You could even play up to 4 characters! I was the oldest of 3, so this was a game we all not only agreed on, but loved playing. And we played together.
In the story, Shredder kidnaps April and the turtles need to battle through stages of Foot Soldiers and mutants to save her. It’s standard now, but at the time it was still exciting. It was so innovative at the time. The soundtrack was a masterpiece in gaming. It was frantic and energetic. It made you want to kick foot soldiers in the head with your friends and family.
The artwork on the arcade cabinet, however flawed, is still a masterpiece.
9 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES / USAGI YOJIMBO (1986 – CURRENT)
Usagi Yojimbo is one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles oldest allies. While Cerabus was the first cross-over character the turtles experienced in the comics, Usagi and the turtles have exchanged appearances continually for as long as the turtles have been around.
In 1986at the end of the Donatello Macro series, the guest artist in the pin up section was Usagi Yojimbo being surrounded by the Ninja Turtles.
Since this crossover, Usagi has appeared in almost every very animated series (I’m giving Rise some time) as well as comics and action figures. The turtles have also appeared in Usagi’s series, with Stan Sakai providing the artwork for his version of the TMNT. And with the announcement that Usagi Yojimbo’s comic series will be moving to IDW, home of the turtles, we’re likely to see the ronin rabbit team up with the turtles many more times.
8 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 2: SECRET OF THE OOZE (1991)
“Secret of the Ooze” does what all TMNT franchises do best on their return; heighten.
The movie heightens everything. We had a Shredder, now he’s Super Shredder. We get more mutants, more Foot Clan, and more mutants. The creation of Tokka and Rahzar in place of Bebop and Rocksteady were questionable, but now have their own place in turtle history.
We learn more about the turtles origin, and the power of the ooze. We’re introduced to Keno, a new human friend. The story seems much bigger this time around. More action, less intimate.
While still a fun movie, it didn’t age as well as it’s predecessor. It remains a time capsule of the 90’s. The turtle animatronics took a bit of a hit. The mouths didn’t move as much. They seemed a bit more “cartoonish.” And, of course, Vanilla Ice. Much of the “Secret of the Ooze’s” downfall is that it shows the time period too much. That, and no Casey Jones.
7 – PLAYMATES TOYS
The toys are the reason the show was made. For real. The TV show was produced, but only because Playmates Toys insisted they release a cartoon first. If the show was successful, they would be the sole liscensee for TMNT figures for decades. There are a few exceptions now, but they remain the only producer of toys for the current version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The toys inspired collections and play time for kids all over. I had a ton. My friends had them. I was jealous of anyone with a Turtle Blimp and knew the Technodrome was, and is, the coolest playset on earth. These toys let us live as one of our favorite turtles, team up Casey Jones with Ace Duck, or neatly set up your figures in action poses. Whatever you decided to do with yours, a ton of new adventures started here.
6 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1987 – 1996)
The original cartoon is the one most people are familiar with. This is the version that every other version is judged on. If you ask someone to draw a Ninja Turtle from memory, the 1987 cartoon is what most people will attempt.
The hit cartoon spawned Turtlemania. Mutated turtles were no longer an outlandish idea and “Cowabunga” became a household phrase. As with all cartoons, they were made to sell toys. We were introduced to waves of mutated villains that would remain in the TMNT canon even today. The characters were weird and gross and everything kids wanted.
The cartoon turned most viewers, including myself, in to life long fans. The theme song alone is an instantly recognizable glimpse in to the 90’s. It’s frantic, it’s colorful, and it’s weird. The song lets us know what to expect from each turtle’s personality, what we’re in for, and made up the word “Half-Shell.” This is without a doubt, the most recognized version of the Teenage Mutant ninja turtles, world wide. While time hasn’t been kind to the 80’s, much of the cartoon still holds up today.
The initial 5-episode arc laid the groundwork for multiple generations of villains and characters and stories that would carry on through decades. And the theme song (yes, created by Chuck Lorre) is still as recognizable as ever. It’s a classic.
5 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES IV – TURTLES IN TIME (1991)
Turtles in Time is considered by some as one of the best video games of all time. Each game in the Konami series led this masterful sidescroller to the level it became. Featuring some fan favorite villains like Metalhead, Baxter in Fly form, Leatherhead, and Tokka and Rahzar from the Secret of the Ooze, this game was even my introduction to Slash, my favorite character. My Super Nintendo was basically a “Turtles in Time” machine for a long time.
This was my first introduction to some of the weirder aspects of the TMNT. Now, Foot Soldiers were pirates and sometimes they rode dinosaurs. The game-play itself was solid. You felt every hit, rode across the water, and were extremely satisfied when you threw a Foot Soldier in to the screen in front of you.
It took parts from the cartoons and movies, but largely existed as its own entity. This is the best version of the Konami run of TMNT games. It’s weird, and it’s fantastic.
4 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – MIRAGE COMICS (1984 – 2014)
The self published original Mirage comic book is the ultimate DIY success story. Two friends wrote, drew, published, and released their own comic book. The limited run of 3,250 issues sold out and a cultural phenomenon was born.
The first mirage comics are considerably dark. They weren’t afraid of blood and kill the Shredder in in the first issue. Even though the decision to make it black and white was probably due to limited funds, but it added to the strange and dark tone of the series. The Mirage series is a true love letter to comics in general. The turtles share an origin with Daredevil and Eastman and Laird’s admiration of Jack Kirby shows in the art, and character names.
This comic is the reason that no version of the turtles is right or wrong. The leap from the Mirage series to the 1987 cartoon is night and day. Most people know the original cartoon or the Playmates toys. but knowing that this is the original source material means that any change in style or tone should be welcomed. Yes, even if it’s not for you.
The original Mirage comic is version of the Ninja turtles that’s not like the others. This is clearly an adult comic. But the blueprint was there, and that was all the world needed. Soon the toys and cartoon followed, and a multiverse of mutated turtles was born.
3 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2012 – 2017)
I’m going to use a word to describe this show that I never use. The show is wonderful. When the show was announced, I dismissed it as a simple kids show that reused the characters I grew up with. I was wrong.
The show is an epic celebration of everything Ninja Turtles. Each episode works on its own, but the seasons tell a much bigger story. The show truly embraces the weird side of TMNT. They go to Dimension X, they fight the Triceraton, Usagi Yojimbo appears! The final season seems to consist of weird “What if” stories and alternate realities. The final shot in the series is a simple “Thank you” to Peter and Kevin.
The show is smart and fun. It takes elements from every TMNT before it and even creates it’s own lore. We get to see Bebop and Rocksteady in their human forms for a lot longer. This version does another crossover with the 1987 version while they also explore alternate dimensions. This also has my favorite version of April to date! The cast is one filled with a fantastic voice cast and explains a big change in Leo’s voice in the best way. The show is a celebration of every version leading up to it and remained completely new. It’s impressive. It’s so Impressive, I even got on board with “Booyakashaa!”
2 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – IDW (2011 – CURRENT)
With issue #73, the IDW series became the longest running Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic series to date. Now with issue #100 in their sights the series has found new ground yet undiscovered in the series.
It’s much more “adult” in tone. Each arc has an old element of TMNT history with a fresh take, along with an onslaught of new characters. The artwork is consistently fantastic, bringing some of the best artists in comics to give their take on the turtles. The writing has brought turns never before thought of in a TMNT series and gives new life to classic characters.
I always felt that the most difficult part of creating a TMNT anything (movie, show, comic, etc) was having it feel grounded and small, while including Triceratons and Dimension X kinds of crazy. The IDW series does this so well, you never question the authenticity of 4 Ninja Turtles fighting an onslaught of mutants. It’s a tough sell, but they nail it. The comic gives explanations to things I never needed explaining. It lets us see how the turtles went from red masks to colors. And the story arch leading to Issue #50 was masterful. For anyone who might not be in to other TMNT options right now, I urge them to start reading this series. This is what you want.
1 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1990)
When I think of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in my head, this is the version I think of. The story is taken from the Mirage series, but seeing them become real was what puts this version above all else. It’s set in our world, in New York City. With suits, state of the art animatronics and masterful puppetry from Jim Henson Studios, this story about a family is the pinnacle of the franchise.
Fun story. I have a scar on my finger from what I was a kid. I threw my talking Mickey Mouse in to my framed movie poster. It was a tiny bloodbath. I might be looking at the movie through nostalgia colored glasses, but I’m not the only one. NECA figures based on the film sell out whenever released, soundtracks based on the film sell out in hours. There’s a hole in our hearts made from the limited amount of merchandise produced during the original films release.
The movie that no studio wanted to make became the highest grossing independent film of the time. It’s a theatrical film with a ridiculous premise that takes itself seriously. Of course it’s a kid’s movie. But not once does it talk down to kids. It remains an enjoyable, even great movie almost 30 years later. It talks about death and family and gives us subtle hints of life lessons like consequences. It’s not a kids movie, it’s a movie suitable for kids. And a great one at that.
THAT’S THE LIST!
We did the math, this was all very scientific. If you disagree, and I’m sure you do, let us know in the comments!