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|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|
|Based on||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
by Kevin Eastman
|Developed by||David Wise|
|Directed by||Yoshikatsu Kasai (season 1)
Bill Wolf (seasons 2–7)
Tony Love (seasons 8–10)
|Voices of||Cam Clarke
|Theme music composer||Chuck Lorre
Dennis C. Brown
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||10|
|No. of episodes||193 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Kevin Eastman
|Producer(s)||Rudy Zamora (season 1)
Andy Luckey (seasons 2–7)
Kara Vallow (seasons 8–10)
|Running time||22 minutes|
Fred Wolf Films Dublin
|Distributor||Group W Productions
|Original channel||Syndication (1988-1993)
|Picture format||480i SDTV|
|Original release||December 14, 1987 – November 2, 1996|
|Followed by||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 TV series)|
|Related shows||Turtles Forever (2009)|
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (earlier known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in some European countries due to controversy at the time) is an animated television series produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson and the French company IDDH. The pilot was shown during the week of December 14, 1987 in syndication as a five-part miniseries and the show began its official run on October 1, 1988. Since then the show and franchise has become a world-wide 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. After it 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 cereal, 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. In 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 origin story in the television series differs greatly from that of the original Mirage Studios comics. In this version, Splinter was formerly a human being, an honorable ninja master named Hamato Yoshi who had studied art history as a hobby. Yoshi was banished from the Foot Clan in Japan after being deceived by the seditious Oroku Saki, who pinned Hamato Yoshi's dogi to the wall with a knife, preventing him from kneeling before their sensei which was seen as an insult. When Yoshi removed the knife, the sensei was again insulted believing Yoshi was drawing the blade in opposition to him. Exiled from the ninja clan, the disgraced Yoshi moved to the United States, specifically New York City. Being penniless, Yoshi is forced to live in the sewers. Back in Japan, Saki has been given command of the Foot Clan, which he corrupts by teaching his students how to commit robberies and other crimes.
While living in the sewers with the rats as his friends, Yoshi one day found four turtles, recently bought from a pet store by an unnamed boy who accidentally dropped them in the sewer. Yoshi returned one day from his explorations around New York to find the turtles covered with a strange glowing ooze. The substance caused the turtles, most recently exposed to Yoshi, to become humanoid, while Yoshi, most recently exposed to sewer rats, became a humanoid rat, and started going by the pseudonym "Splinter". This, and the following Archie TMNT Adventures Comics, is the only origin story in the TMNT franchise where the Turtles come to Yoshi before being exposed to mutagen. Also, Yoshi becomes a rat, whereas in most other versions, he is Yoshi's pet rat that becomes humanoid. 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 adopts the four turtles as his sons and trains them in the art of ninjitsu. He names them after his favorite Italian renaissance artists: Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo), Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (Donatello), Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael), and Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (Michelangelo). In most versions, the Turtles tend to go by nicknames Leo, Donnie, Raph, and Mikey, but in this version they are always addressed by their full names. Each Ninja Turtle wears a mask over his eyes with a distinctive color, and is trained in the art of a distinct weapon.
Meanwhile, Oroku Saki has left Japan and tracked Yoshi to New York City, where he intends to destroy him once and for all. He has become associated with Krang, a disembodied alien brain who has been banished from his home, Dimension X, where he was a great warlord. Saki has taken on a new persona, donning a suit covered with razor spikes, complemented by a long cape, and a metal mask over his mouth. He has also taken on the pseudonym "The Shredder".
It becomes clear early in the series that the mutagen that transformed the Turtles and Splinter into their new forms was dumped into the sewer by Shredder in an effort to murder Yoshi. Shredder, not knowing the full effect of mutagen at the time, thought he had concocted a deadly poison. The Turtles vow to take revenge on the Shredder for dishonoring their master, as well as turning him into a rat. The Turtles' vendetta evolves into stopping Shredder's ongoing criminal career with the aid of Channel 6 reporter April O'Neil. Another goal of the Turtles is to force Shredder to restore Hamato Yoshi's human form, but this is also dangerous as it could also result in the Turtles reverting to ordinary turtles and losing their humanoid abilities. The Turtles begin to take on the role of vigilante crime-fighters operating outside of the jurisdiction of law enforcement against any criminals, much like Casey Jones in the third season. For the first couple of seasons, it seems as if the Turtles are constantly preoccupied with hiding their existence. This seems to be slowly relaxed and, by the last few seasons, most citizens seem to be well aware of them. They also frequently have to deal with citizens misunderstanding them, thanks 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 the Shredder and Krang cause. Eventually the Turtles manage to build up a small amount of trust with New Yorkers whom they have saved from Shredder or other villains.
Shredder, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady (two street thugs morphed into animal form by exposure to the Shredder's mutagen), and a small army of robotic Foot Soldiers try to destroy the Turtles and take over the world. Much of their quest for world domination hinges on bringing the Technodrome (Krang's mobile fortress, and their base of operation) to the surface as it was either stuck in the Earth's core, Dimension X, the Arctic, or on the sea bottom of the Arctic Ocean.
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 animation became darker and closer to the movies' style, the color of the sky in each episode changed from the traditional blue to a continuous and ominous dark-red sky (which was commonplace with newer action-oriented children's programming at that 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 Turtles finally banish The Shredder and Krang to Dimension X at the end of the eighth season. They destroy the engines and the "trans-dimensional portal" of the Technodrome preventing them from returning to Earth, though they later return for a few episodes in season ten. A new villain, Lord Dregg, an evil alien warlord, appeared as their new chief nemesis for the final two seasons. Lord Dregg begins a propaganda campaign against the Turtles, turning the general population against them and in favor of him and his forces. The Turtles also suffered from subsequent mutations that would temporarily metamorphosize them into hulks with diminished intelligence. Also the TMNT gained a close new ally, Carter, a black male with an incurable mutation disease before he left to look for a cure in the future. Dregg is eventually outed as a villain, but the Turtles are never hailed as heroes within the city. In the last episode of the series, the Turtles trap Dregg in Dimension X.
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 the 2003 series. Due to financial reasons, none of the original voice actors were able to reprise their roles, and replacement actors were used instead. In relation to this particular series, the plot suggests the film is most likely set sometime before Shredder and Krang are banished to Dimension X, during the time the Technodrome is stuck near the Earth's core.
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!".
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 did 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. Chuck Lorre said he has never received any royalties.
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.
"[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."
||This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (September 2013)|
In the United Kingdom, TMNT was released under the name Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (TMHT). This was due to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, 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 random clips from the show with the weapon the grapple tortoiseshell.
The TMHT version was aired in other European countries, including 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 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 original TMNT version was also alternatively aired. Other European countries (including Bulgaria, France, Italy, Russia, Serbia and Turkey) dubbed the original TMNT version.
In 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 like "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 Ireland. This led the UK and 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, in 1989, before shifting to a 4:30 pm timeslot for Season 2. Later, after ratings fell, it was moved to a morning timeslot on Agro's Cartoon Connection. 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. However some "Hero Turtles" branded merchandise was commonly available in the country due to being imported cheaply from the UK.
As of April 6, 2012 reruns of the series currently broadcast weekly on Teletoon Retro in Canada. 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 continued to air until August 16, 1997. The series previously reran in North America in Quebec on Super Écran, who rebroadcast the entire series from 2006 to 2008, and on the USA Network's USA Cartoon Express from September 13, 1993 to September 15, 1996. 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, the rights to the show are now owned by Network Ten, and the show occasionally airs on their digital channel Eleven in the early morning.
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 pop culture. Co-creator, Peter Laird, has publicly shared his distaste with the show on numerous occasions. 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.
||It has been suggested that this section be split into a new article titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 TV series home video releases). (Discuss) Proposed since May 2015.|
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. Starting in April 2004, DVD releases began.
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, which already appears on 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 Ireland on 25 May 2009.
4 DVDs containing 3 episodes each based around Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelango were released on 19 May 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 Series is being released in Australia by Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The first six DVD's 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. The released episodes reflect the series initial Australian broadcast in its late afternoon timeslot. Later episodes from when the show was shifted to a morning timeslot (due to declining popularity), have yet to be released.
|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.|
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 means that it spawned countless imitators such as:
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