Comics On TV: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'


by Ryan Rigley

With the numerous film, TV, and video game incarnations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles out there, it's easy to forget that the four turtles in a half shell actually made their original debut within the pages of a comic book. Last week, the release date for the new live-action film produced by Michael Bay and directed by Jonathan Liebsman—latest in a long line of spin-offs from Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman's original comic—was pushed back to August 8th, 2014.

Seeing as how that date is right after Marvel's possible blockbuster "Guardians of the Galaxy," one might assume that Bay and Liebsman have the utmost confidence that their "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" will shell shock audiences across the country. But before we feast our eyes upon the latest "Turtles" adaptation, we thought it best to look back on the first—the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoon, to be precise. Reminisce with us past the jump!

Series Statistics

Network: CBS

Broadcast Date: 1987 - 1996

Seasons: 10

Episodes: 193

Originally a dark and gritty comic series parodying the tone of Frank Miller's work on books like "Daredevil," the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" animated series featured a much more kid-friendly take on Turtles with the intentions of mass producing a line of action figures via Playmates Toys. The show was a huge success during its initial five episode run and prompted the network to purchase more seasons.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" went on to become a turning point for the TMNT-franchise, exposing the Turtles to a massive audience of all ages as opposed to the small cult following of its comic book counter-part. Everything we now love about the Ninja Turtles is a direct result of the evolution that they went through in transition from comics to television. Some even consider "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" to be one of the greatest cartoon series of all time. And rightfully so! I mean, have you heard the theme song?

Good luck not getting this stuck in your head!

Notable Episodes

Turtle Tracks

After his owner is assassinated by Shredder in Japan, Splinter heads for the sewers of New York City where he discovers four baby turtles covered in radioactive green ooze. Growing exponentially larger in size, the rat sensei takes it upon himself to train the four grown turtles in the art of ninjutsu in order to fight Shredder.

Enter the Shredder

After consulting his brain-shaped partner from Dimension X, Krang, Shredder decides to mutate two of his henchmen utilizing the same radioactive ooze that created the Ninja Turtles. Thus, Bebop and Rocksteady are born.

Usagi Yojimbo

The turtles happen upon a ronin rabbit warrior from another dimension that has somehow crossed over into our world. Meanwhile, Shredder steals a giant dragon egg and plans to unleash it upon New York. The Turtles and Usagi Yojimbo join forces in order to stop the dragon and save the city.

Casey Jones - Outlaw Hero

As Shredder and Krang plan to take over every machine in the city, the Ninja Turtles are forced to team up with an eager, young, hockey mask-wearing vigilante named Casey Jones as a means of saving New York.

Pizza by the Shred

In an attempt to locate the Ninja Turtles' base of operations, Shredder becomes the owner of a new pizza place called "Weird Pizza" with the hopes that the turtles will order from him so that he can place an anchovy-shaped beacon on their pizza. However, things quickly take an unexpected turn as Michaelangelo is hired as his new pizza delivery boy. Also in this episode—the Rat King!

Still not convinced that "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is one of the best cartoon series of all time? Well then, watch this supercut of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles talking about pizza:

This is Comics On TV, the column that celebrates the classic comic book TV series that blazed the trail for modern day hits like "Arrow," "The Walking Dead" and "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." If you have any favorite episodes of this week's series, let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!

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