Poster for Turtles Forever, 2009
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|
|Real Name||Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo|
|Weight||about 200 lbs.|
|Eye color||Black, usually no pupils while wearing masks|
|Allies||April O'Neil, Irma Langinstein, Casey Jones, Splinter, Ace Duck, Fugitoid, Nobody, Zak the 5th Turtle, etc.|
|Rivals||Shredder, The Foot, Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, Burne Thompson, Vernon, Triceratons, etc., etc.|
|Debut||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, 1984|
|English voice actor(s)||Varies|
In early 1984, cartoonists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were really poor and really bored. So, while watching terrible movies, Kevin drew a cartoon of a turtle in a bandana with nunchaku strapped to its arms and handed it to Mr. Laird. Peter drew his own version and passed it back. Then Kevin drew FOUR of these turtles, giving each a different ninja weapon. They were on to something, and so they created a comic book featuring these anthropomorphic terrapins, dubbing them the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Drawing inspiration from their two favorite comics of the day - Frank Miller's Daredevil, and New Mutants. The two decided to put their tax returns into printing the comic, and within days, all 5,000 copies sold out. Based on the success of the first issue, the duo decided that there was something to these characters, and created an ongoing series. The comic was a black-and-white, dark, gritty story about the mutant turtles and their mutant rat senseii living in the sewers of New York City. It was an intense, hardcore series, the likes of which hadn't been seen in mainstream American comic books.
Because it was the mid-80s, action figures were all the rage. Playmates toys agreed to create a line of action figures based on Eastman and Laird's creation, if they could get a cartoon deal, similar to other toy-cartoon tie-ins of the day, such as GI Joe and Transformers. As a result, in the week between Christmas and New years in 1987, the five-episode pilot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles debuted, and kids everywhere were captivated by the party-animal Heroes on the Half-Shell.
Based on the unprecedented success of the cartoon and action figure line, Eastman and Laird wanted to try their hand at making a full-length feature film, too. They partnered with Limelight Studios to create Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, which was distributed by New Line Cinema. The film was produced on a budget of 13 million dollars, and released on March 30, 1990. The film's total gross revenue was $201,965,915 - Clearly a financial success. In fact, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the highest-grossing independent film until 1994's Pulp Fiction.
The success of the first film led to a sequel, the next year; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Despite having a budget of $25 million dollars, the second movie wasn't as revered as the first, mostly due to New Line Cinema taking into consideration parents' complaints about the first movie; Most notably, that it was too dark, there was too much swearing, and the Turtles using their weapons was though to be too violent. TMNTII is brighter, there is no swearing, and other than one shot with Donatello, the TMNT never use their weapons offensively. Despite this, the second movie introduced us to Tokka the evil mutant snapping turtle, Rahzar the evil mutant wolf, and Super Shredder, the mutated, frightening version of the turtles' arch-nemesis.
Two years later, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III was released. And it was kinda terrible.
In November of 1996, the final season of the 1987 animated series came to an end, after nine seasons. But in 1997, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation debuted on Fox Kids, which introduced the lost, fifth turtle: Venus DeMilo. This show was cancelled after just one season of 26 episodes.
The Turtles remain dormant for some time after this. Other than Image Comics publishing an out-of-continuity comic book series, there was no new source material published between 1998 and 2002.
In 2002, Mirage Studios began publishing the fourth volume of TMNT comics at the same time Dreamwave began publishing Transformers comics, and Wildstorm Entertainment began their Thundercats limited series. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe became both a comic book from Image Comics as well as an animated series on Cartoon Network, as did Transformers: Armada, though the latter was published by Dreamwave studios.
In 2003, a 4Kids Entertainment funded a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. This series ignored the 1987 cartoon's existence, and took its ideas and concepts mostly from the original Mirage Studios comic books. Characters such as Fugitoid, Utroms, and the Triceratons appeared in several episodes.
In 2006, TMNT 2003 became known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Foward. The turtles warped into the future for 26 episodes, while the tone of the series lightened and became a bit more accessible to younger viewers. A lot of high-tech weapons and concepts were included into this season.
Based on the success of the 2003 animated series, Imagi Animation Studios released the fourth full-length animated Ninja Turtles movie in 2007, entitled simply TMNT. This movie may or may not be related to the other three movies; it was written in such a way that it could be considered a sequel, but doesn't have to be. No working knowledge of the previous movies is required to enjoy TMNT.
In 2008, the TMNT 2003 cartoon was re-titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Back to the Sewers. The Turtles and Splinter returned to the present day.
2009 saw the release of Turtles Forever, a direct-to-DVD feature that ends the TMNT 2003 cartoon by having the 2003 turtles meet the 1987 turtles.
I'm gonna add some stuff about video games, later. If somebody wants to add anything about some of the Archie comics, please do.