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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 

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The adventures of a quartet of humanoid warrior turtles and their friends.
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Series cast summary:
Cam Clarke ...  Leonardo / ... 193 episodes, 1987-1996
Townsend Coleman ...  Michelangelo / ... 193 episodes, 1987-1996
Renae Jacobs Renae Jacobs ...  April O'Neil / ... 191 episodes, 1987-1996
Barry Gordon ...  Donatello / ... 186 episodes, 1987-1996
Peter Renaday Peter Renaday ...  Splinter / ... 181 episodes, 1987-1996
Rob Paulsen ...  Raphael / ... 170 episodes, 1987-1995
Pat Fraley ...  Krang / ... 152 episodes, 1987-1996
James Avery ...  Shredder / ... 106 episodes, 1987-1993
Jennifer Darling ...  Irma Langinstein / ... 81 episodes, 1988-1994


This show tells the adventures of four turtles who were transformed into humanoids by a strange ooze and were trained as ninja by a human martial arts master, Hamato Yoshi, who was changed into a humanoid rat, Splinter, by the same substance. Together with the intrepid reporter, April O'Neil, they fight against the threats against the world, like Shredder and Krang. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

turtle | shredder | knife | 1990s | 1980s | See All (71) »


TV-Y7 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

Fred Wolf Films | Official site





Release Date:

14 December 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

T.M.N.T See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(193 episodes) | (1990-1996)

Sound Mix:



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The catch phrases during the theme song ("He's a radical rat", "Gimme a break", etc.) is the sped-up voice of theme song writer Chuck Lorre. They were intended for the voice actors but were never re-recorded. See more »


In many of the earlier episodes, a specific turtle's line would come out of the wrong character's mouth (i.e., Leonardo speaking with Raphael's voice). See more »


Rocksteady: Ooooh yuck! It looks like what the water looks like after my bath!
Shredder: Hey. When was the last time THAT happened?
Rocksteady: Ooh what year is this?
[goo splat]
Rocksteady: I think it's the year my bath is due!
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Alternate Versions

In the UK, Ninjas and their weapons are a taboo subject, and several kinds of weapons are illegal to show on TV (Such as Katana and Nunchaku). To try and get around censorship laws, the show was marketed as "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles" and the names of cerain weapons and places were changed. Towards the end of the show's run, the format changed almost entirely as part of a trend to make shows more "extreme" to appeal to a new generation of viewers:
  • Shredder and Krang were removed from the show for over a sesaon. New villains came in the form of giant space slugs involved in organized crime;
  • Almost all character building scenes were removed to make it an entirely action oriented show;
  • April and Splinter's roles were diminished considerably;
  • The turtles voices were altered to sound more deep and aggressive;
  • The cartoon feel of the show was removed--The sky was changed from blue with white clouds to red with gray clouds and buildings were drawn as if destroyed;
  • Irma, Verne, April's boss, Baxter Stockman, Ratking, and numerous other characters were totally removed from the show;
  • In addition, the opening sequence was hiked up, changing the music to a techno beat with flashing lights and scenes from the Tutles movies intercut with new scenes from the show.
See more »


Referenced in Knight of the Living Dead (2005) See more »


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme
Composed by Chuck Lorre and Dennis C. Brown
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The gold standard by which action cartoons should be judged.
15 April 2002 | by lee-190See all my reviews

Many die-hard TMNT fans will tell you that the cartoons are juvenile and overrun with corny jokes, corny plotlines, and references to pizza. They'll proclaim that the original Mirage comics are the "true" incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

They're mostly right, but the first season of the cartoon (a 5-part miniseries, originally shown in the space of one week on syndicated TV in 1987) knocks the block off the comics and off all other action cartoons ever written. It retains the dark, edgy feel of the comics, but contains enough humor to avoid seeming stern or self-absorbed.

The miniseries details the origins of the TMNT and their master, Splinter the rat--it seems Splinter was originally Hamato Yoshi, an instructor in the Foot Clan of ninjitsu in Japan, until he was double-crossed by one Oroku Saki and banished. Yoshi then fled to New York City and lived in the sewers with the rats and four pet turtles. One day, Yoshi found the turtles covered with a powerful mutagen which turned the turtles into humanoid turtles and Yoshi into a humanoid rat. Knowing that they would be considered freaks by society, Yoshi trained them in ninjitsu. Yoshi named the turtles after his favorite Renaissance painters: Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo and Donatello.

While skulking through the sewers, the turtles rescue April O'Neil, a TV news reporter who has run afoul of an army of street thugs while investigating a series of break-ins committed by ninjas at high-tech scientific equipment companies. Upon meeting her saviors, April promptly faints, and the turtles take her back to their lair. When April comes to, Splinter tells her their origins. April, however, is unimpressed and thinks the turtles are responsible for all the break-ins she's been covering. The turtles persuade April to hold off on any impulse reporting and let them find the crooks for her.

The turtles and April investigate these robberies and discover that they were perpetrated by an army of robots wearing the colors of the Foot Clan, leading Splinter to conclude that Oroku Saki is the leader of the whole operation. Splinter gets captured by Saki's robots and taken away. The turtles hunt down Saki in his base--a mobile underground fortress called the Technodrome--and discover that Saki, who now calls himself the Shredder, is indeed responsible for the crimes the turtles have been investigating. Not only that, it was Saki who dropped the mutagen in the sewers, thinking it would destroy Yoshi. Shredder makes a bid for the turtles to join him, but they refuse, and then proceed to kick the butts of his henchmen.

In later episodes, it is revealed that Shredder is in league with an alien warlord named Krang from dimension X, and that Krang wants to bring his troops from dimension X to conquer Earth. The turtles manage to foil Shredder and Krang's ambitions by causing the Technodrome to suck itself into dimension X. April is able to document the turtles' battles with Shredder and Krang and convince some of the skeptics of the turtles' heroism.

So, there you have it. This is the cartoon origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it's about 100 times better than the comics origin (and the movie origin, which was loosely based upon the comics).

The miniseries is available on laserdisc (extremely rare!) and on a collection of 3 VHS tapes titled "Heroes in a Half Shell," "Hot Rodding Teenages" and "The Shredder is Splintered." A somewhat condensed and edited version is available on the VHS tape "The Epic Begins," but it's worth the extra cash to buy the 3 VHS tapes and get the full, uncut miniseries.

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