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

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.

Photo: New Line Cinema

  • They Were Created As A Parody Of 'Daredevil'

    Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman love Daredevil. So much so that when they decided to make a one-off comic about ninjas who happened to be turtles they threw in as many references to the hit Ben Affleck movie comic book about a blind lawyer/ninja master as they could. Laird recalled, "Splinter's name was a tip of the hat to the Daredevil supporting character Stick."

    And since The Hand was the scourge of Daredevil during Frank Miller's tenure, it was only natural that the Turtles would find themselves fighting with The Foot.

  • Shredder Was Based On A Cheese Grater

    When Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were designing the Turtles' main foe, they looked anywhere they could for the inspiration that would give them a leg up over their comic book competition. According to Eastman, Shredder's design was inspired by a metal cheese grater that struck him as a potential weapon.

    What kind of cheese grater do you think he keeps around his house? Yikes.

  • The Turtles Used A Cow Head For Interdimensional Travel

    If all you know about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is their late-'80s/early-'90s cartoon or those Michael Bay-produced films, it may surprise you to learn that the Turtles lead a very strange life in the 72-issue run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. The first five or six issues are business as usual: The guys fight Shredder, there's a witch, everything is as normal at it could be. But then, in issue #7, Intergalactic Wrestling, the Turtles are taken by a disembodied cow head named Cudley the Cowlick who takes them to outer space where they're forced to wrestle aliens in order to return home.

    And that's not the last the Turtles would see of Cudley. 

  • April O'Neil Wasn't Always A Reporter

    Most fans of the animated series were introduced to April O'Neil as the reporter with a thing for the color yellow. In the original comics, April is an assistant at Baxter Stockman's laboratory and the Turtles save her when Stockman's robot mice attack.

    Even though she gets a cool storyline in issue #11, when the Turtles and Casey Jones escape to her upstate family home (you may remember this scene from the first film), it's not until the cartoon series that O'Neil dons the yellow jumpsuit. 

  • 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.