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15 Things You (Somehow) Never Really Knew About The Ninja Turtles

Updated October 21, 2019 2.1m views15 items

For most kids that grew up in the '90s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a Saturday morning touchstone that informed the way they spoke, the food they ate, and their thoughts on ninjas in general. But there are a lot of Ninja Turtles behind-the-scenes facts that true fans may find very frustrating, and maybe even a little disheartening. Some of the surprising Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles facts are interesting pieces of lore that go back to when the turtles were first created in a cramped apartment in Massachusetts. Below, you'll find out which kitchen utensil Shredder was based on - and it’s not the one you think it is.

In the early days of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s now-iconic comic book, Ninja Turtles Easter eggs were all over the place, and most of them made very on-the-nose references to some of their favorite comic book artists and characters. This compendium of TMNT facts will take you on a journey from page to screen and include the thoughts of the creators of the series, as well as fill you in on what the turtles were up to in the comics while you were at home eating pizza and shouting “Cowabunga!” If you like your Ninja Turtles trivia to be nice, nice, baby, then you’re going to love reading about these Ninja Turtle facts.

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  • It Took 3 People To Make Each Turtle Act In The First Movie

    In the 1990 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, three people made each suit come to life - two puppeteers and a voice actor. Leif Tilden, who co-operated Donatello, described his first day as a trial at best: 

    The first scene I did with Michelangelo, when we're waiting for the pizza in the sewer - that's all we did that day. It was us just sitting there and putting together all of that choreography - head movements, eye contact and taking a breath. Each Turtle has two puppeteers - one moving the eyes, one moving the mouth, and you're timing everything together. Six people trying to make this very subtle, delicate scene work and look believable.

  • Raphael Quit The Team For A Little While

    For a few issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures in the early '90s, Raphael bails on his brothers in order to join up with the Mighty Mutanimals (Man-Ray, Leatherhead, Wingnut, etc.) to fight intergalactic villains Null, Skul, and Bean.

    So while the Turtles are fighting a giant Foot Clan soldier and a dragon, Raph is sort of helping the Mutanimals fight their baddies, but also almost getting eaten by Queen Maligna on her hive planet. 

  • No One Wanted To Make The First TMNT Movie

    Even though the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was rising popularity in the late '80s, nobody in Hollywood wanted to touch a film version. The producers associated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles attribute the failure of Howard the Duck to the franchise's slow jump to the big screen, but this was also a point in time when no one wanted to make comic book movies; producers thought they wouldn't sell. 

    "One of my first calls was to Peter Chernin, who went on to run Fox for a long time," one producer told The Hollywood Reporter. "But Peter goes, 'Are you guys out of your minds?' Howard the Duck was just released. Nobody felt like a comic book could be converted into a live-action character."

  • The Turtles Were Super Political

    In the cartoon and subsequent films, the Turtles are mostly worried about where their next pizza is going to come from and how to appropriately separate their ninjaing from their partying. But in the comics, they're seriously worried about the environment.

    Issues #26 and #27 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures deal with different ecological disasters. First, an alien from the future shows up to steal all the endangered animals from Earth before humans can bring the animals to their demise, and in the following issue, a toxic waste plant leads to mutants that want to capture April O'Neil and turn her into a creature! It's a whole thing.