The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is a series based upon characters that originated in a series of comic books created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Originally a dark and gritty comic, it was adapted into a more kid-friendly animated television series in the late 1980s and subsequently spawned a long line of merchandise such as action figures, as well as a series of theatrical feature films. The franchise has also spawned numerous games, beginning with Ultra Games's NES release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The titular brothers are a quartet of turtles that, through exposure to a mutagen compound, are transformed into anthropomorphic humanoids with human intellect. They are trained in the martial arts by Splinter, a man that was likewise affected by the mutagen and transformed into an anthropomorphic rat. He raised the turtles as a father figure and named each of them after an artist of the Renaissance.
- Leonardo - He is the leader of the group. He wears a blue piece of cloth around his head, wields two katanas, and was named after Leonardo Da Vinci.
- Raphael - The more temperamental of the four, the very aggressive Raphael wields a pair of sai and is recognizable through his red mask. He was named after Raphael Sanzio.
- Donatello - The brains of the group, recognizable through his purple mask. He wields a bo staff and was named after Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi.
- Michelangelo - The comedic turtle known for his slapstick comedy, love of pizza, and nunchaku. He wears an orange mask and was named after Michelangelo Buonarroti.
The turtles' primary ally is April O'Neil, a television reporter they rescue and subsequently befriend. Their primary adversary is Shredder, an evil, power-hungry martial artist.
Film & Television
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have starred in four total films, three live action films and one CGI film. The first live action film is meant to be an origin story for how the turtles and their master, Splinter, came to be. The first film showed how the turtles turned into their humanoid forms, as well as introducing other characters such as April O' Neil, Casey Jones, and their nemesis, Shredder. The basic plot of the first film is an attempt to follow the storyline from the original comic, but it did take some liberties. The first film was a purely independent film and ended up becoming a huge hit, which allowed for two more live action sequels.
The second live action film, The Secret of the Ooze, is a direct sequel to the first film and is a much more "family-friendly" film than the original. The Secret of the Ooze felt much more similar to the Saturday morning cartoon than the much darker comic. The second film also introduces two new characters, Tokka and Rahzar, who took the place of Bebop and Rocksteady. These new characters were created because the original creator of The Teenage Mutant Turtles, Kevin Eastman, did not like the family-friendly direction of the second film.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III is the last live action film in the series and focuses on a story involving time travel. After finding a strange scepter, the turtles are inadvertently transported back in time to fifteenth century Japan, where they thwart a European trader's attempt to seize power before returning to their own time.