Get ready to explore every type of turtle (of the ninja variety) that you can handle as we look back at thirty years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles history. What a better way to start than the 80’s and 90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Animated Series? Ultimately, I feel the Animated Series Turtles in particular are the ones who will always be the distinct Pop Culture reference for the masses. Whether or not the new Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film (out last weekend) or any other incarnation of the four brothers suits you, there are so many Turtle universes out there to enjoy, it is nearly impossible to say that you don’t like the Ninja Turtles. If you don’t like the franchise, it’s like saying you don’t like pizza, which is a personal insult to my four Ninja friends and to me. Without further ado, here are 13 things you didn’t know about the animated series.
The Animated Series started in December of 1987 as a five episode mini series, which is now thought of as Season 1 for the show. These episodes earned the entire first volume of the DVD’s with a couple episodes from season 10 tacked on.
The original miniseries was made due to a plan to produce toys for the franchise by the company Playmates Toys, because the company thought the toys would not sell based just on the comic alone. They asked Murakami Wolf Swenson (initially and after the first two seasons it changed to Fred Wolf Films.) to produce something for TV to base the toys off of. From this venture we gained two of the most popular parts of Ninja Turtles history with the expansive set of figures and the 10 season long television show.
In the Turtles Animated Series, the writers changed each Turtles look. They gave each turtle a different color headband, which were originally all red in the comics, so kids could differentiate between the four of them. Now they are known so well by their respective colors, it is hard to imagine them all having the red headband. In addition, the creators of the Animated Series added the first letter of their names on their belt buckles. The artists added lots of bright popping colors to the screen making for a richer environment, but one that was impossible to take seriously.
A larger change was modifying Splinter’s backstory. In the comics, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi’s pet rat, who mutated the same way the turtles did. He learned how to be a ninja by observing Hamato Yoshi. In the television cartoon, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi.
The dark nature of the comics was gone and this was not the kind of universe any turtle comic fan of the time, or even the creators wanted to see but they were marketing it towards children so of course they had to edit it down.
In the U.K. and other parts of the world the show was actually called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Michelangelo’s screen time was cut down due to his use of nun chucks, which are illegal in a large amount of the world.
Casey Jones who was actually not too far off from his comic version, he still was not exactly what you were expecting, but he had the same type of “I don’t give a crap” attitude and other than his Clint Eastwood like voice for the series.
The Ninja Turtles made P.S.A’s. I can tell you what got me this far with not drug problems was the Turtles telling me, say no to drugs and say yes to pizza. This may have caused a rise in type 2 diabetes in my generation, but many of us got through it drug free, which has always been the way to be.
Rocksteady and Bebop were created just for the Animated Series in order to produce more toys. The fan favorites are Shredder’s main thugs and bodyguards. These guys were pretty dumb but also pretty tough because Shredder used mutagen on them and the men they used to be mutated into a Rhino and a Warthog. Initially it seemed the bumbling idiots were not well liked. They may not have even been in the show if the creators had full control. However, over time they have became canon to the universe we all know.
April O’Neil was made into a reporter for the Animated Series. She was originally introduced in the comics as a computer programmer and assistant to Baxter Stockman. Knowing that her origin was not as a reporter proves how much the Animated Series changed what is considered to canon to most people.
Shredder wasn’t in the series for almost two seasons. The Technodrome (Shredder and Krang’s base of operation) was stuck at the earth’s core, Dimension X, and frozen in the Arctic. The Turtles finally banished Shredder and Krang forever by sending them to Dimension X and through a portal, destroying the engines and their portal technology. We don’t see them again until late in season 10.
The new bad guy during that time was an alien named Lord Dregg. This is a part of the series I admittedly do not remember from my childhood. After watching the series again, it is kind of cool to see the Turtles battle more than “normal: villains, just as they did in the controversial TMNT CGI film. Most people saw this change as negative because most people see Shredder as the most formidable villain. Even so, the show lasted longer than just about every single Saturday morning cartoon by this point. With this change they also incorporated more of the darkness from the films and even had footage from the first film in the beginning credits. With the villain and style change it was difficult to handle. Ultimately, the show was canceled after seasons 8-10 only had 8 episodes each.
Despite the huge success of this series, it took three times airing the first five-episode special for it to gain any kind of viewing audience. But thank Splinter it did because we got to have 10 seasons, which for a Saturday morning cartoon is insanely good. I mean Ninja Turtles had two more seasons than Dexter, four more seasons than Lost, and five more than Breaking Bad. The series came out to be just short of 200 episodes with a final count of 193.
None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties.