Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (initially known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in some European countries due to controversy at the time, and retroactively also known as TMNT 1987 or just TMNT '87) is an American animated television series produced by the studio Murakami-Wolf-Swenson and the French company IDDH. The pilot was shown during the week of December 28, 1987 in syndication as a five-part miniseries (launching on 84 stations and being played twice a day) and the show began its official run on October 1, 1988. Since then the show and franchise has become a worldwide phenomenon. The series featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters created in comic book form by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The property was changed considerably from the darker-toned comic, to make it more suitable for children and the family.
The initial motivation behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series was that, upon being approached to create a toy line, Playmates Toys was uneasy with the comic-book characters' small cult following. They requested that a television deal be acquired first, and after the initial five-episode series debuted, the California toy company released their first series of Ninja Turtles action figures in the summer of 1988. The two media would correspond in marketing style and popularity for many years to come.
David Wise and Patti Howeth wrote the screenplay for the first five-part miniseries. When the series continued in the second season, comic artist Jack Mendelsohn joined the show as the executive story editor. Wise went on to write over seventy episodes of the series, and was executive story editor for four later seasons as well. Wise left the series partway through the ninth season, and Jeffrey Scott took over as the story editor and chief writer for the rest of the show's run.
The show was in Saturday morning syndication from October 1, 1988 to September 9, 1989, and became an instant hit. The show was expanded to five days a week and aired weekday afternoons in syndication in most markets from September 25, 1989 to September 17, 1993. Starting on September 8, 1990 (with a different opening sequence), the show began its secondary run on CBS's Saturday morning lineup, beginning as a 60-minute block from 1990 to 1993, initially airing a couple of Saturday exclusive episodes back to back. There would also be a brief "Turtle Tips" segment in between the two episodes which served as PSA about the environment or other issues. There were a total of 20 "Turtle Tips" segments produced and aired. Beginning in 1994, the show began airing as a 30-minute block until the series ended. The series ran until November 2, 1996, when it aired its final episode.
The show helped launch the characters into mainstream popularity and became one of the most popular animated series in television history. Breakfast cereals, plush toys, and all manner of products featuring the characters appeared on the market during the late-1980s and early-1990s. A successful Archie Comics comic book based on the animated show instead of the original black-and-white comics was published throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. Action figures were top-sellers around the world. By 1990, the cartoon series was being shown daily on more than 125 television stations, and the comic books sold 125,000 copies a month.
The origins story in the 1987 television series deviates significantly from the original Mirage Studios comics. In this version, Splinter was formerly human, an honorable ninja master named Hamato Yoshi who studied art history as a hobby. He was banished from the Foot Clan (a Japanese dynasty of ninjas founded by one of his distant ancestors) after one of his students, the power-hungry and seditious Oroku Saki (who resented Yoshi's leadership within the clan and aspired to usurp him), set him up for an offense against a visiting master sensei. One day, Saki pinned Yoshi's dogi to the wall with a knife, preventing him from kneeling before the sensei, which was seen as an insult. When Yoshi removed the knife, the sensei was again insulted, believing that Yoshi was drawing the blade in an attempt to kill him. Disgraced, Yoshi left his native Japan and relocated to New York City without a penny to his name. Now homeless, he was forced to live in the sewers with the rats as his only friends. Meanwhile, Saki is given command of the Foot Clan, which he corrupts and transforms into a criminal organization.
Some time later, Yoshi adopted four turtles after they were accidentally dropped into the sewer system by an unnamed boy, who had recently bought them from a pet store. He returns from his explorations around New York City one day to find the turtles covered with a strange glowing ooze. This substance caused the turtles, who were most recently exposed to Yoshi, to become humanoid, while Yoshi, who was most recently exposed to sewer rats, became a humanoid rat, and was given the name "Splinter" by the turtles. This, and the following Archie TMNT Adventures comics (which is loosely based on the 1987 cartoon series), is the only origin story in the TMNT franchise in which the Turtles come to Yoshi before being exposed to the mutagen. The television series also differs in that Yoshi himself becomes a rat, whereas in most other versions, Splinter is Yoshi's pet rat and becomes humanoid after being exposed to mutagen. This is also the only version in which the Turtles become fully grown immediately after exposure to the mutagen, whereas Splinter raises them from infancy in other versions.
Yoshi raises the four turtles as his sons and trains them in the art of ninjitsu. He names them after his favorite Italian renaissance artists: Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (Donatello), Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo), Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (Michelangelo), and Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael). In most versions, the Turtles tend to go by nicknames Don/Donnie, Leo, Mikey and Raph, but in this version they are always addressed by their full names. Each Turtle wears a mask over his eyes with a distinctive color (whereas in the original Mirage comics, they all had red masks): blue for Leonardo, purple for Donatello, red for Raphael, and orange for Michelangelo; and they are each trained in the art of a distinct weapon, with Leonardo wielding katanas, Donatello wielding a bo staff, Raphael wielding sais, and Michelangelo wielding nunchuks (which were later replaced with a grappling hook, although the nunchuks still appeared on occasion).
Oroku Saki eventually leaves Japan and tracks Yoshi to New York City, where he intends to destroy him once and for all. It is also around this time that he begins working with Krang, a disembodied alien brain from Dimension X who ruled his native realm with an iron fist until he was stripped of his body and banished to Earth. Saki takes on a new pseudonym, "The Shredder", donning a suit covered with razor spikes, and complemented by a long cape, a metal samurai helmet, and a metal mask over his mouth. Since leaving Japan, his ambitions have grown from usurping leadership of the Foot Clan, to world domination. To this end, Krang provides the Shredder with a vast array of powerful technology from Dimension X, including the Technodrome, and funds most of his schemes throughout the series (in exchange for building Krang a powerful new android body, which he eventually does by the end of season 1).
It becomes clear early on in the series that the mutagen which transformed the Turtles and Splinter into their new forms was dumped into the sewers by Shredder in an effort to murder Yoshi, as he had mistakenly believed it to be a deadly poison rather than a transformative agent. After several years of training under Splinter, the Turtles set out to find whoever is responsible for their transformation, and upon learning that Shredder was behind it, they vow to put an end to his ongoing criminal career and restore Splinter back to his human form, despite the risk that they themselves could be de-mutated and changed back into ordinary turtles, thus losing all of their humanoid abilities. Along the way, they befriend Channel 6 news reporter April O'Neil after rescuing her from a gang of street punks (among them were Bebop and Rocksteady in their pre-mutated forms) who had chased her into the sewers. The Turtles, who had rarely left the sewers prior to meeting April, also began to take on the role of semi-vigilante crime fighters, operating outside of the jurisdiction of law enforcement, much like Casey Jones. Despite this, they frequently have to deal with citizens misunderstanding them, which is due in no small part to the efforts of Burne Thompson, April's employer, and Vernon Fenwick, a Channel 6 cameraman, who distrust the Turtles and frequently blame them for the trouble that Shredder and Krang cause. As a result, they mainly have to rely on April (either via Turtle-com, or Channel 6 news reports) to inform them of crimes in the city, and to counteract Burne and Vernon's smear campaigns against them with her own news coverage of the Turtles, portraying them as a force for good, although doing so frequently lands her in trouble with her employers and various criminals throughout the city. Reluctant to expose themselves to the outside world, the Turtles usually wear disguises whenever they leave the sewers, although this is slowly relaxed as the series progresses and they gain the trust of the broader populace, whom they have saved from Shredder and other villains on many occasions. Even at Channel 6, the Turtles befriend secretary Irma from the second season onwards.
Shredder, Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady (two street thugs who were mutated into a humanoid warthog and rhinoceros respectively, after being exposed to Shredder's mutagen and the aforementioned animals, which were stolen from the zoo), Baxter Stockman (an inventor who is briefly employed by Shredder until he is sent into Dimension X, where he is accidentally transformed into a mutant fly by Krang, who had intended to execute him; ever since then, he has sought revenge against both the Turtles and Shredder/Krang for his transformation and for attempting to kill him), and their legions of Foot soldiers repeatedly try to destroy the Turtles and take over the world. Much of their quest for world domination hinges on repowering the Technodrome (Krang's mobile fortress, and their base of operations) and bringing it to the Earth's surface, as it was either buried deep under New York City (season 1), stuck in Dimension X (seasons 2 and 4), embedded in the Earth's core (season 3), stranded in the Arctic (season 5), or at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean (seasons 6 and 7). However, their plans always fail, often landing the villains in humorous predicaments. Some episodes feature other, usually minor villains as antagonists, such as the Rat King (a homeless man living in the sewers who has control over rats and believes that he is one himself; he considers all other species inferior and aspires to establish a rat-controlled government above ground), Leatherhead (a mutated Florida crocodile who speaks with a Cajun accent), Slash (a savage, humanoid mutant turtle with brute strength and low intelligence; he was Bebop's pet turtle before he was exposed to mutagen), General Traag and Granitor (two high ranking Rock Warriors who are loyal to Krang and command a vast army in Dimension X, which Krang often tries to bring to the Earth in order to conquer it), and many others. Some episodes also involve the TMNT getting themselves and the city out of a mess that one of the Turtles (usually Michelangelo or Donatello) inadvertently cause.
In the last three seasons, the show (which had already lasted well past the average lifespan of most Saturday-morning cartoon series) went through dramatic changes. The stories within these seasons are typically known among viewers as the "Red Sky" episodes. The show's humor had been toned down significantly, the animation became darker, the color of the sky in each episode was changed to a continuous and ominous dark-red sky (which was commonplace with newer action-oriented children's programming at the time), the theme song was changed, the introduction sequence added in clips from the first live-action film, and the show took on a darker, more action-oriented atmosphere. The series' main antagonists—Shredder, Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady—who had hitherto been depicted as dangerous but comically inept villains, were now portrayed as a more menacing, unified threat. Both Shredder and Krang had lost much of their earlier resentment towards each other (with Shredder even going as far as to risk his own life to save Krang on multiple occasions), and Shredder had evolved into a more vengeful, bloodthirsty version of his earlier self. Bebop and Rocksteady also gained a certain degree of intelligence and joked around much less. Additionally, Krang was revealed to have seized power in Dimension X through numerous betrayals and widespread destruction, resulting in old enemies seeking vengeance.
The Turtles, likewise, underwent a few changes. Although their personalities remained mostly the same, their demeanor evolved into a more serious and determined one than in prior seasons. Michelangelo, for example, did not obsess over pizza or goof off as much as before, and Raphael made lighthearted, fourth-wall breaking jokes far less often, more closely resembling the angry, impulsive Raphael seen in the comics and later adaptations. And in contrast to earlier episodes in which the Turtles would spend most of their time training, relaxing, or partying, and only countering a threat when it arose, they devoted most of their time and energy to tracking down Shredder, Krang, or Lord Dregg, and putting them away for good.
Season 8 was also noted for the destruction of the Channel 6 building where April worked, which had been a longtime fixture of the series. Additionally, a number of recurring villains had been written out of the show by this point, including Baxter Stockman (who is trapped in dimensional limbo), Leatherhead (whose fate is unknown, but it is assumed that he has long since returned to the Florida swamps), Pinky McFingers (who has been in jail since season 6), Slash (who was last seen running away at the end of "Night of the Rogues" in season 7), Big Louie (fate unknown, but presumably in jail), Don Turtelli (presumably in jail), and Groundchuck/Dirtbag (jailed on the Planet of the Turtleoids). The Rat King, however, makes one final appearance in the second episode of season 8, where he is defeated once more by the Turtles and apprehended by the police, never to be seen again. With the exception of April, the Channel 6 news crew were all gradually phased out of the show by the end of season 8 (with April working freelance afterwards for unspecified reasons), and many other secondary protagonists (such as the Neutrinos, the Punk Frogs, Mondo Gecko, Zach, Kerma, etc.) were dropped from the show completely.
At the end of the seventh season, the Turtles sent the Technodrome through a portal into Dimension X, but without Shredder, Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady. As a result, the villains are now stranded on Earth without any weapons or power, and they are forced to work out of an old science building until they can find a way back into Dimension X and retrieve the Technodrome (which had landed in a black hole with General Traag and his battalion of Rock Warriors trapped inside). The Turtles, taking advantage of the situation, relentlessly pursue their arch enemies in an effort to put an end to their schemes once and for all. Eventually, Shredder and Krang, along with Bebop and Rocksteady, build a new portal into Dimension X and reclaim the Technodrome, although the Turtles manage to track them down with the help of Gargon (a mutated resident of Dimension X who was being held prisoner by Shredder and Krang). Gargon initially intended to betray the Turtles by leading them into Shredder's trap on the planet Balaraphon, but he switches sides after seeing them rescue innocent villagers from Krang's army of Rock Soldiers. At the end of season 8, the TMNT finally banish Shredder, Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady to Dimension X by destroying the engines and the "trans-dimensional portal" of the Technodrome (although the Turtles were able to use the portal at least twice afterwards; the reasons for this are unexplained), preventing them from returning to Earth. From season 9 onwards, a new villain called Lord Dregg (voiced by Tony Jay), an evil alien warlord from Dimension X, appeared as the new chief nemesis. He begins a propaganda campaign against the Turtles, turning the general population against them and in favor of him and his forces. Although Dregg is outed as a villain at the end of season 9, the Turtles are never able to regain the trust of the broader population, which is mainly due to an earlier smear campaign by Burne and Vernon, who blamed the Turtles for the destruction of the Channel 6 building in season 8. Additionally, the Turtles began to suffer from mutations that would temporarily transform them into monstrous hulks with diminished intelligence, a problem that would not be completely resolved until season 10. The TMNT also gain a new ally in the form of Carter, a brash African American male who initially sought out Master Splinter for training in ninjitsu, but is eventually exposed to mutagen and contracts an incurable mutation disease.
In the final season of the series, Dregg's sycophantic henchman Mung encounters Shredder and Krang, who are still stranded in Dimension X. They told him that they had battled the Turtles for years, but even though Shredder claimed to have destroyed them (probably out of embarrassment and humiliation for his failure to actually do so), Mung knew that he was lying. No mention is made of Bebop or Rocksteady, suggesting that they are either dead or have long since parted ways with Shredder and Krang. Soon afterwards, Mung returns to Dregg's ship and informs him of their encounter, and Dregg decides to bring both Shredder and Krang back from Dimension X to help him fight the Turtles. However, the pair immediately rebel against Dregg and leave, continuing on where they left off before they were banished at the end of season 8. Back on Earth, Shredder and Krang kidnap April O'Neil and do battle with the Turtles once more, although they are all soon transported back to Dregg's lair. The Turtles initially have the upper hand in the fight, but Shredder and Krang are able to subdue them after reluctantly agreeing to work with Dregg. As he prepares to drain the Turtles of their life energies, Shredder and Krang betray Lord Dregg and force him onto one of the operating tables, intending to drain both him and the Turtles of their power (which is what Dregg had intended to do to Shredder and Krang all along). Dregg, however, manages to escape and uses his microbots to capture Shredder and Krang. Although he successfully drains the Turtles and Krang of their life energies, Shredder breaks free before Dregg is able to take anything from him. Shredder spends the duration of the next two episodes finding a way to heal Krang (which he eventually does) and dispose of Dregg so that they may take control of his armies and conquer the Earth, but in the ensuing confrontation they are permanently transported back to Dimension X, never to be seen again. In the same episode, Carter also bids farewell to the Turtles as he travels to the future to look for a cure for his mutation. In the final episode of the series, Michelangelo and Donatello travel to Dimension X to retrieve Krang's mechanical body in the (now abandoned and completely destroyed) Technodrome, which is sitting on a hill standing upright (whereas at the end of season 8, an alien plant had dragged it down into a deep pit), suggesting that Shredder and Krang initially tried to repair the Technodrome before declaring it a lost cause. Shredder, Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady are nowhere to be seen, and it is assumed that they are either dead or still somewhere in Dimension X. The Turtles eventually find Krang's suit and use it in a final confrontation with Dregg, which ends with the Turtles banishing Dregg to Dimension X (and possibly killing him as well, by sending Krang's android suit back with him as it is about to explode). Splinter congratulates the Turtles on their victory and, now that all of their enemies have been vanquished, states that he has nothing more to teach them, calling them his equals.
In 2009, the Turtles, Shredder, Krang, and various other characters from the 1987 series returned for the 25th anniversary crossover movie Turtles Forever, in which they meet up with their counterparts from a series that began in February 2003. Due to financial restrictions, none of the original voice actors were able to reprise their roles, and replacement actors were used instead.
In April 2013, Ciro Nieli, the executive producer of the 2012 Turtles series, confirmed in an interview that the 1987 Turtles would cameo in a one-hour special in season 2. Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, Barry Gordon and Rob Paulsen (who voiced Donatello in the 2012 series) reprise their roles as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael, respectively, in the closing of the episode "Wormquake!". The 1987 turtles also had a crossover with the 2012 turtles in the season 4 episode, "Trans-Dimensional Turtles" (late-March 2016). In addition with the lead cast-members reprising their roles from the episode, Pat Fraley also reprised his role as Krang who is depicted as a relative of Kraang Subprime that was banished to Earth in the 1980s reality for being incompetent. The 1987 turtles also returned during season five of the 2012 series for a three part special, Wanted: Bebop and Rocksteady, along with the original Shredder, Foot soldiers, Krang, Technodrome and Bebop and Rocksteady.
Through most of the series, the episodes featured a recurring background music which reflected the mood of the situation, as well as ID music for settings such as the Technodrome, the New York City sewers, Channel 6, etc.. The soundtrack was composed by Dennis Challen Brown (credited as "D.C. Brown" and later as "Dennis C. Brown") and Chuck Lorre. Lorre recorded the theme song (and performed the spoken parts) and became a successful television producer. The performer of the song was James Mandell (aka Miles Doppler). To date the soundtrack has never been released for retail.
The Channel 6 News theme music also appeared in the Turtles in Time video game.
Casting for the show took place in Los Angeles. During recording of the voice acting, all the main cast recorded together. According to Renae Jacobs, voice-actress of the reporter April O'Neil, working together "was great for camaraderie and relationships. We played off each other...there was a lot of ad libbing."
Also according to Jacobs, the actors frequently undermined the efforts of the show's creators to make the show grittier and more serious, instead embracing silliness and jokes for both children and adults.
"They [the Turtle voice actors] were kind of like the Marx Brothers, The Stooges, Laurel & Hardy, Burns and Allen and all of those wonderful, fabulous old radio personalities and early movie personalities all rolled up into one. Those guys put the heart and soul into those turtles and came up with those personalities."
In the United Kingdom, TMNT was originally released under the name Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (TMHT). This was due to the controversy surrounding ninjas and related weapons such as nunchaku at the time. The intro sequence was heavily edited because of this, replacing the word ninja with hero or fighting, using a digitally faded logo instead of the animated blob, and removing any scenes in which Michelangelo wields his nunchaku, replacing them with clips from the show.
The TMHT version was aired in other European countries, including the Republic of Ireland (except series 1, which had the original title), Belgium, Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, in local dubs (the Finnish version was in English with subtitles, while Polish was in English with a voice-over translation). In Denmark, the English censored version was aired on the national broadcaster TV2. It had subtitles as well, however, only seasons 2 and 3 were aired in this fashion. Season 1 was aired as one spliced feature, instead of the original five-part miniseries. The movie was titled The Epic Begins, and included heavy edits from each of the five episodes, and was also released to VHS in the USA in 1988.
After the 2 seasons had aired on Danish TV, the show was cancelled; however, it later returned with local dubs of episodes from season 5, and Denmark was also one of the first countries to get to see the episodes in which the turtles travel to Europe. These were also aired with subtitles.
The original series aired in early 2011 during the early morning hours on TV2 in Denmark. All 193 episodes have been re-dubbed, and this time they aired in their original US unedited form.
In Sweden, TV 3 Sweden, which aired from London, aired seasons 1-3 between 1990-1993, while TV1000 aired seasons 4-6 with subtitles and the "Vacation in Europe" episodes dubbed. The series was dubbed into Swedish by Mediadubb. Meanwile, Sun Studio also dubbed some chosen seasons 1-3 episodes into Swedish, for home video releases in 1991, later rereleased to DVD. In Sweden, the home video releases kept the original title, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".
In Spain, the name of the cartoon was translated to Las Tortugas Ninja (with the word ninja in the title), but at first the TMHT version was still used for dubbing, although the word ninja was kept in several instances of the dub, and the original TMNT version was also alternatively aired afterwards. Other European countries (including Bulgaria, France, Italy, Russia, Yugoslavia and Turkey) dubbed the original TMNT version. In Yugoslavia, the series was re-dubbed into Serbian with Prizor sincronization for TV Pink as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (1998).
In the Republic of Ireland, the series was initially known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the intro sequence was unedited when it debuted with the airing of the second season. After the first two episodes were broadcast, the name was changed to Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and the intro was edited, except for season one. In 2007–2008, episodes were aired in their original US unedited form.
When shown on the BBC, phrases such as "Let's kick some shell!" and "Bummer!" were removed from the episodes (the latter may relate to a British slang term for anal sex). The series Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation was also referred to as Hero Turtles, possibly using the term hero to separate the television series from the live action movies. The 2003 television series, however, remained intact when shown in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. This led the UK and the Republic of Ireland to have a disambiguation between the two animated series, using Hero Turtles to separate the 1987 television series from the other incarnations of the franchise. In 2009, a DVD of the first two seasons was released under the Ninja Turtles branding, thus bringing this version of the franchise into line with the later versions.
The first season of the show premiered in Australia as a two-part (90 minutes each) prime-time miniseries on the Seven Network, after being promoted as coming soon in December 1989, as a new huge US show sweeping the world, and exclusive only to seven, to be aired for the first time in Australia in early February 1990 only on Seven. In a TV Line Up commercial of new shows for 1990. Before shifting to a 3:30 pm timeslot for Season 2. Later, after ratings fell, it was moved to a morning timeslot in January 1994 as part of Agro's Cartoon Connection (a successful classic Australian children's puppet, comedy, and cartoon variety show) until its end in Australia in 1996. The show was mostly uncensored, airing under its original name with occasional edits, including the editing of Season 1 into the two-part 90-minute primetime broadcasts.
On April 6, 2012 reruns of the series broadcast weekly on Teletoon Retro in Canada until the channel was shutdown on September 1, 2015. There are no other TV reruns of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series currently airing in North America. Although the last episode broadcast on CBS on November 2, 1996, reruns of Seasons 8, 9 and 10 continued to air until August 30, 1997. The series previously reran in North America in Quebec on Super Écran, who rebroadcast the entire series from 2006 to 2008. Episodes from Seasons 1-7 were reran on the USA Network's USA Cartoon Express from September 13, 1993 to September 15, 1996 (which was the last time to date any episode from prior to Seasons 8-10 aired on television in the United States). Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Fred Wolf Films own the rights to the show, and they have been responsible for the DVD releases.
Neither Mirage Studios nor Viacom, the current owner of the franchise, own the rights to the 1987 television series, so Lionsgate and Fred Wolf are not under any obligation to inform them of future releases. Some reruns were shown for UK audiences on BBC weekday mornings (although they were mostly all from seasons two and three). In the Republic of Ireland, the series ended its original run on August 9, 1998, but the show was regularly rerun on RTÉ Two until 2008. In Yugoslavia the series was broadcast on RTS from 1991 - 1994 and on RTV Pink from 1998 - 2002. In Denmark, the show is aired every weekday at 6.00 am on TV 2.
In Australia, for the first time since its original run and end in 1996, when it was on the Seven Network. The rights to the show are now owned by Network Ten, and the show occasionally airs on their digital channel Eleven every Sunday mornings at 9–10:00 am for double episodes.
IGN named TMNT as the 55th best show in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows. While the story diverged heavily from the original conception of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the universe of the original Mirage comics, the 1987 television series is largely the most notable and popular incarnation and drove the franchise to the phenomenal status it would achieve in popular culture. Co-creator, Peter Laird, has publicly shared his distaste with the show on numerous occasions but has also acknowledged that it was extremely successful with and beloved by its audience and, while he would have preferred a different approach to the material, it might not have been as popular as what was produced. Retroactively, the cross-over film Turtles Forever established a common multiverse continuity between all Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles variations that existed at the time of the 25th anniversary of the original Mirage comicbooks, primarily focusing on this series, and those of the 2003 animated series. Therefore, while not part of the original canon of the Mirage Turtles, the series can be considered part of the wider official turtles canon.
Originally, the series was released to VHS tapes and laserdisc between 1988 and 1996 by Family Home Entertainment while airing back in the late 1980s-early 1990s. Meanwhile, the UK, videotapes were released using the "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles" censoring title. Starting in April 2004, DVD releases began in region 1.
|VHS name||Ep No.||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Heroes in a Half Shell||2||1988|
|The Epic Begins||season 1 highlights||1988|
|Hot Rodding Teenagers||2||1988|
|The Shredder is Splintered||2||1988|
|Case of the Killer Pizzas||2||1990|
|Invasion of the Punk Frogs||1||1988|
|The Incredible Shrinking Turtles||4||1988|
|Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady||2||1990|
|Sky Turtles||1||1990||Burger King Promotional Video|
|The Great Boldini||1||1990||Burger King Promotional Video|
|Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers||1||1990||Burger King Promotional Video|
|April Foolish||1||1990||Burger King Promotional Video|
|Pizza by the Shred||2||1989|
|Turtles at the Earth's Core||2||1990|
|Attack of the Big Macc||2||1989|
|Leonardo Lightens Up||2||1991||part of the "Sewer Heroes" series|
|Raphael Meets His Match||2||1990||part of the "Sewer Heroes" series|
|Donatello's Degree||2||1990||part of the "Sewer Heroes" series|
|Michaelangelo Meets Bugman||2||1990||part of the "Sewer Heroes" series|
|The Turtles' Awesome Easter||2||1991|
|Turtles VS Turtle Terminator||2||1989||part of the "Sewer Heroes 2: The Bad Guys" series|
|Turtles VS the Fly||2||1988?||part of the "Sewer Heroes 2: The Bad Guys" series|
|Turtles VS Leatherhead||2||1989||part of the "Sewer Heroes 2: The Bad Guys" series|
|Turtles VS Rhinoman||2||1989?||part of the "Sewer Heroes 2: The Bad Guys" series|
|Turtles of the Jungle||2||1991||part of the "Hollywood Dudes" series|
|Rebel Without a Fin||2||1991||part of the "Hollywood Dudes" series|
|Four Turtles and a Baby||2||1991||part of the "Hollywood Dudes" series|
|Planet of the Turtles||2||1993||part of the "Hollywood Dudes" series|
|The Big Rip Off||2||1993||part of the "Bodaciously Big Adventures" series|
|The Big Blow Out||2||1993||part of the "Bodaciously Big Adventures" series|
|The Big Zipp Attack||2||1993||part of the "Bodaciously Big Adventures" series|
|The Big Cuff Link Caper||2||1993||part of the "Bodaciously Big Adventures" series|
|Convicts from Dimension X||2||1995||part of the "Bodaciously Big Adventures" series|
|The Starchild||2||1995||part of the "Bodaciously Big Adventures" series|
|The Legend of Koji||2||1995||part of the "Bodaciously Big Adventures" series|
|Shredder Triumphant||2||1995||part of the "Bodaciously Big Adventures" series|
|Funny, They Shrunk Michaelangelo||2||1990||Hi-C Fruit Drinks promotional video|
|Beyond the Donatello Nebula||2||1994||part of the Out Of this World!" series|
|Unidentified Flying Leonardo||2||1994||part of the Out Of this World!" series|
|Planet of the Turtleoids||2||1993||part of the Out Of this World!" series|
|Return of the Turtleoid||2||1993||part of the Out Of this World!" series|
|Return of the Turtleoid||1||1993||released with TV Teddy|
|The Four Musketurtles||1||1990|
|The Four Musketurtles||1||1993||released with TV Teddy|
|Laserdisc name||Ep No.||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Heroes in a Half Shell||4||?|
|Attack of Big Macc||4||1989|
|Leonardo Lightens Up||4||1989|
|The Epic Begins||season 1 highlights||?|
|Turtles at the Earth's Core||2||1989|
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has released the entire series to DVD in Region 1. Initially it was released in volumes, with each volume containing 9–13 episodes in production order, with the exception of the first volume, which included bonus episodes from the last season. After six volumes, it was announced that the series would now be released in season sets, starting with season 4. However, the episodes "Once Upon a Time Machine" and the 1991 prime-time special "Planet of the Turtleoids" were omitted from the Season 5 set, but are included in the Season 10 set as bonus episodes. The DVDs do not include the Turtle Tips PSAs.
On November 13, 2012, Lionsgate released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The Complete Classic Series on DVD in Region 1. The 23-disc set features all 193 episodes of the series as well as bonus features. It also contains special collectors edition packaging.
On July 23, 2013, Lionsgate re-released all 47 episodes of season 3 together in a 4-disc box set.
|DVD name||Ep No.||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Volume 1||9||April 20, 2004||Contains all 5 episodes of season 1 and 4 bonus episodes from season 10|
|Volume 2||13||April 26, 2005||Contains all 13 episodes of season 2|
|Volume 3||12||December 6, 2005||Contains episodes 1–12 from season 3|
|Volume 4||12||April 4, 2006||Contains episodes 13–24 from season 3|
|Volume 5||12||August 29, 2006||Contains episodes 25–36 from season 3|
|Volume 6||12||December 5, 2006||Contains episodes 37–47 from season 3 and the first episode of season 4|
|Season 3||47||July 23, 2013||Contains all 47 episodes from season 3|
|Season 4||40||March 13, 2007||Contains all 13 syndicated episodes from Season 4 (including the first episode, previously featured in Volume 6), all 26 CBS episodes from Season 4, and one of the final two syndicated episodes of which aired in Season 5, but were left from Season 4.|
|Season 5||18||August 7, 2007||Contains all episodes from Season 5, except "Once Upon a Time Machine" and "Planet of the Turtleoids". Part 1 and 2|
|Season 6||16||April 8, 2008||Contains all 16 episodes from Season 6.|
|Season 7||27||May 12, 2009||Contains all 14 episodes from Season 7 and the "Vacation in Europe" mini-series.
|Season 8||8||September 1, 2009||Contains all 8 episodes from Season 8.|
|Season 9||8||August 16, 2011||Contains all 8 episodes from Season 9.|
|Season 10||11||August 14, 2012||Contains all 8 episodes from Season 10 and the episodes "Once Upon a Time Machine" and "Planet of the Turtleoids" Part 1 and 2 which were missing from the Season 5 Set.
|Complete Series||193||November 13, 2012||Packaged inside an exclusive, plastic molded collectible "party van" with DVDs of all 10 seasons (including all the same on-disc bonus content found in the previous individual releases).|
|Cowabunga Classics||11||July 29, 2014||Contains 10 "fan-favorite" episodes from Seasons 1-7 that were selected from a TV.com poll, including both parts of ""Planet of the Turtleoids".
The first volume of the 25th Anniversary Edition, containing all episodes from the first two seasons in a PAL format, was released for Region 2 DVDs by Lionsgate Home Entertainment in the UK and the Republic of Ireland on May 25, 2009.
4 DVDs containing 3 episodes each based around Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelango were released on May 19, 2014.
|DVD Name||Ep #||DVD #||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Season 1–2||22||3||May 25, 2009||Contains all episodes from seasons 1 and 2, plus 4 bonus episodes from season 10.|
|Best of Leonardo||3||1||May 19, 2014||Contains the episodes "Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X", "Unidenfied Leonardo", and "Leonardo Cuts Loose".|
The series has also been released by German distributor KSM GmbH.
|DVD Name||Ep #||DVD #||Release Date||Additional Information|
|DVD Collection||24||5||May 17, 2007 (Disk 1 & 2)
July 26, 2007 (DVD Collection)
August 17, 2007 (Disk 3 to 5)
|Contains all episodes from season 8, 9, and 10.
|Box 1||25||5||March 12, 2009||Contains all episodes from seasons 1 and 2, plus first 7 episodes from Season 3.
|Box 2||5||May 3, 2010||Contains 25 more episodes from Season 3.
|Box 3||30||6||July 12, 2010||Contains the remaining 15 episodes from Season 3, the first two episodes from Season 4 and the complete "European Vacation" Side-Season.
|Box 4||6||October 17, 2011||Contains 30 more episodes from Season 4.
|Box 5||6||December 5, 2011||Contains the remaining Episodes from Season 4 as well as all episode from Season 5 and the first of Season 6.
|Box 6||29||6||February 12, 2012||Contains the remaining Episodes from Season 6 as well as all of Season 7.
The show was released in Australia by Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The first six DVDs are more or less duplicated from the Region 1 discs released in America, however unlike the American release, Season 4 was broken down into several separate volumes (7 to 9). The discs are in Region 4, but they are in NTSC picture format, instead of PAL, reflecting the changes in television technology since the original airing of the series in 1990. All episodes from the 1987 series have now been released in Region 4, in Volumes 1-16.
|DVD name||Ep No.||DVD No.||Release date||Additional information|
|Volume 1||9||1||2009||Includes the complete first season and four episodes from Season 10.|
|Volume 2||13||1||2009||Includes the entire second season.|
|Volume 3||12||1||2009||Includes episodes 1–12 of Season 3.|
|Volume 4||12||1||2009||Includes episodes 13–24 of Season 3.|
|Volume 5||12||1||2009||Includes episodes 25–37 of Season 3.|
|Volume 6||12||1||2009||Includes episodes 38–47 of Season 3 and episode 1 of Season 4.|
|Volume 7||13||1||2009||Includes episodes 2–14 of Season 4.|
|Volume 8||13||1||2009||Includes episodes 15–27 of Season 4.|
|Volume 9||13||1||2009||Includes episodes 28–39 of Season 4 and episode 1 of Season 5.|
|Volume 10||13||1||2013||Includes episodes 2-14 of Season 5|
|Volume 11||13||1||2013||Includes episodes 15-22 of Season 5 and episodes 1-5 of Season 6|
|Volume 12||11||1||2013||Includes episodes 6-16 of Season 6|
|Volume 13||13||1||2016||Includes entire Vacation in Europe sideseason|
|Volume 14||13||1||2016||Includes episodes 1-13 of Season 7|
|Volume 15||13||1||2016||Includes episode 14 of Season 7, entire Season 8, episodes 1-4 of Season 9|
|Volume 16||8||1||2016||Includes episodes 5-8 of Season 9, episodes 3-5 & 8 of Season 10|
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Magazine was a children's magazine published quarterly by Welsh Publishing Group, Inc during the height of TMNT popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was officially licensed by Eastman and Laird and available by subscription.
The $1.95, 32-page magazine featured articles about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a variety of other subjects, including an article on the last page of each issue spotlighting a real life turtle species. Mirage Studios staff artists such as Dan Berger and Jim Lawson provided a majority of the covers and spot illustrations. A pullout poster was available in every issue and was painted by Mirage Studios artist Michael Dooney.
The popularity of the series spawned countless imitators such as:
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