Just a few weeks ago, we were talking about how a notable martial arts expert tied to the original TMNT movies was responsible for teaching a Walking Dead actor how to fight with a bo staff. After the most recent episode aired, we learned a lot more about that character, and subsequently discovered many more references to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even Kevin Eastman himself made note of these moments and posted about them on his Facebook fan page. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of these nods to the turtles. Just be forewarned that there will be spoilers ahead!
1. A Teacher Named Eastman
As the character of Morgan told us his backstory in “Here’s Not Here,” he introduced the audience to a peaceful man named Eastman who gave him a new outlook on life. Needless to say, this is also the name of a certain co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Kevin Eastman. There’s no telling whether or not this is an intentional nod to the franchise, but the references that follow would seem to suggest that this is the case. After all, this can’t all just be a coincidence, can it?
2. Eastman Preaches Peace
Despite the fact that his family was taken from him by a madman (sound familiar?), Eastman takes a peaceful approach with his student. Morgan comes to him almost feral, but after a few days with his new friend, he begins to turn a new leaf. Eastman uses a staff to take out his enemies, and he claims that he has “come to believe that all life is precious.” Well, doesn’t that perfectly describe Master Splinter? A character named Eastman that behaves just like everyone’s favorite sensei? That has to be intentional.
3. Save the Terrapins
As if his general demeanor and attitude toward life weren’t familiar enough, Eastman also ends up wearing a t-shirt that says “Save the Terrapins.” If you didn’t already know, terrapins are turtles. So a character named Eastman whose story reflects that of Master Splinter also wants us to save the turtles? At this point, the filmmakers behind The Walking Dead are just throwing the references in our faces. I don’t know about you, but I kind of want one of these t-shirts!
4. Sensei Teaches Martial Arts
In addition to every other similarity between Eastman and Splinter, he also teaches Morgan how to use a staff. At least once, he asks Morgan to perform a Kata, practicing his art with the bo staff. How does a man go from stark raving mad to calmly, peacefully kicking butt with a bo staff? With the help of a peaceful sensei who can teach him how to use a weapon not to kill, but to defend himself and others. It almost sounds like the story of Master Splinter and Donatello, doesn’t it?
More to Come?
If we’ve already seen this many references and ties to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during the sixth season of The Walking Dead, how many more connections can we expect to find in the near future? Heck, this might be the end of it for all we know, but it’s still nice to see a few nods to our favorite heroes in a half shell.
Just like TMNT, The Walking Dead also started out as an independent comic only to later became a pop culture phenomenon. From one incredible franchise to another, I think we can all agree that this episode and these characters have served as a loving homage to the Ninja Turtles. Let us know about your favorite connection in the comments below!