Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ranking Every Adaptation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Written by Shiggins


With Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bringing the green quartet back to the 2D playing field, in supremely divisive fashion, I thought it might be fun to look back at the classics and see how many times the Turtles have been in the spotlight and which one was the best... and you'd be surprised how many of them aren't good.

Note: This list does not include the comics or video games.

This has the potential to be a masterpiece or a disaster. Either way, it's going to be epic.

8. Darkest Timeline

There was once a time when companies weren't our friends, and they just cared about money. Hard to believe, but it's true. If something was popular, the corporate bad guys would sit upon their armchairs and demand it be opened up until every last penny was made. And one could say that no other property out there was as exploited and torn apart as the Ninja Turtles, resulting in a gruesome time.

Why? Why did nobody stop this? Couldn't they see their own creations and weep?!
PSAs, live rock n' roll concerts, adverts and toys. So many many many many many many toys. This list is going to be long enough as it is without me including all these, but you should definitely explore the horrific history of product placement and creepy effects that once plagued the TMNT franchise. That is, if you're brave enough!

7. Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation

Lasting only one season in 1997, The Next Mutation was a peculiar duck that honestly deserves a special mention. You see, this was the final tv show that the Turtles got before their cartoon return in 2003 (which we'll get to later) and some could argue was one of the ballsiest. Serving as a soft-sequel to the 90s movie series, Next Mutation brought in new friends, enemies and just plain awful writing.

Notice her Yin-Yang symbols. As if she's saying she balances them out or something. *bitter laughter*
The signatures weapons were replaced, the turtles weren't even related anymore, and a fifth turtle known as "Venus de Milo" was introduced. Unsurprisingly, these decisions weren't popular and ratings bombed. In fact, Peter Laird himself despised Venus' character and made sure she had no future appearances in upcoming movies. Just because you've got the courage to be ballsy, doesn't mean you should do it.

6. The 'Bay' Turtles

And now we come to my introduction to the Turtles, with Michael Bay himself as the producer. Let's be honest, while he didn't direct the pictures, his influence is clearly all over them. The redesigns of the turtles quickly grew distaste from fans for their large bodies and questionable faces, while the casting of Megan Fox as April O'Neil told many of us that we were in for another Bay-flick. Lots of action, noise, bad dialogue, product placement and plenty of sexy images of Megan Fox.

I feel like they forgot the title when designing these guys. In no way are these "teenagers". They look 50 years old!
To their credit however, the films do have some things going for it. The turtles, although clearly not teenagers or ninjas anymore, still have some fun banter and love for pizza. The sewers they live in are well-designed, some of the action scenes like the one with the tank are pretty great, and we even get the very first appearances of fan-favourite antagonists Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady! It's a very unbalanced mess of an adaptation, but there is fun to be had.


In 2007, director Kevin Munroe attempted to bring about a new wave of animated movies with his release of TMNT. While it was a modest box office success, the film was critically panned and never got a sequel. Still though, it's hard to forget the strangeness of this particular entry. In this film, the turtles are separated after defeating the Shredder, but Leonardo returns to New York just in time to face off against a new villain who has hired The Foot clan to capture up some evil monsters.

Miss you every day, Mako.
While many cartoon adaptations are bright and colourful, and the original comic is dark and gritty, this film makes the mistake of trying to be somewhere in the middle. Removing the Shredder, the franchise's greatest villain, and replacing him with Patrick Stewart's business man is just simply a dumb idea, and the beast designs, while clever enough, rarely offer up any unique scenes. Still though, the turtles themselves are the lovable rascals they should be, the animation is slick, and the voicework is dead-on. The foundations for a great franchise was here, but it just went completely off-track.

4. 90s Movies

And now we come to the entries that will get on your nerves if you grew up with the franchise. With amazing effects by Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets, and a very 90s story, these films were perfect for the time they came from. That is a double-edged sword however and they have dated rather poorly. On the plus side though, this is exactly what kids wanted back then.

And just like that, I'm going to order a pizza. Damn you, ninjas!
Three movies, all staring the four turtles, with the first two features involving the Shredder and the last one involving an awful time travel plot. Villains such as Rahzar and Tokka (BABIES!!!) were created thanks to these films, and their legacy still continues to impact the franchise to this day. They're as cheesy as the pizza they eat, but these turtles gave an entire generation a movie franchise just for them. How can you not get suckered in?

3. 2003 Series

A controversial choice perhaps, but one I stand by. Running from 2003 to 2009, this 2D adaptation was a major step for the franchise's animated history. Taking away a large portion of the humour that the last animated adaptation was known for, this one focused on character development and dark magic with some bizarre yet endearing plot choices.

The animation is absolutely gorgeous, arguably the best these guys have ever looked, and the writing is smooth. It appealed to all ages and stretched the limits of 4Kids to get away with as much as possible. Sometimes the voices were a bit too thick and the twists were a bit too odd, but it's still a classic you have to try out.

2. 80s Series

And so we finally come to the one you all know. The one that introduced countless children to the series, and has gone down in history as one of the most untouchable cartoons of all time. Debuting in 1987 and lasting until 1996, this massive adaptation is still considered the most popular and profitable of them all, despite being so different from the comics. It's thanks to this, and the toys that companies wished to sell, that the Turtles have as many characters as they do.

It's impossible not to smile. Look at their cute faces!
From the classic theme tune to the colourful designs, to even having Raphael be the "angry one", the influence of the 1987 series has ran through every single adaptation since then. The Shredder is hysterical with his iconic voice and pathetic banter with Krang, the voice acting is full of personality, and the visuals were great for its time. It hasn't aged well, but this show deserves its spot on this list and in many nerds' hearts.

1. 2012 Series

Kevin Michael Richardson's Shredder is enough for me to place this adaptation as number one. A complex, dark and disturbing incarnation of the main antagonist that still haunts me to this day, voiced to perfection by one of my favourite actors. Of course, there is plenty more to praise and I'm going to do so! Running from 2012 to 2017 (due to problematic scheduling), this cartoon took influences from everywhere but turned them into their own unique brand. For example, they take the baby-like Rahzar from the live-action movie and turn him into a sinister zombie dog-man who despises Michelangelo! And they actually make it work!

I'm sorry. Avengers who?
While the animation has its hiccups, the designs of every character and the personality of voice actors like Seth Green and Sean Astin pull them through and make you barely notice. The show was never afraid to get dark and painful, but it also has some great comedy that balance it out. And most of all, the turtles actually feel like ninjas and teenagers! More than any other adaptation, the title is represented perfectly here. Complex, hilarious and packed with great utilisation of classic characters, this is easily my favourite version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Leave a comment below! Thanks!

He brought pizza?! Shredder is the best villain ever!

Shiggins:[Admin]   .
Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on or go to his tumblr page


  1. I think 2012 was probably made Leonardo more likeable then most of his other incarnations. This new adaption is gonna have a mountainous trial trying to step out of the shadow of this series.

    1. I agree. "Rise" seems like it will be making Leonardo try to act and see himself as cool, while Raphael is the leader. Not sure how I feel about that.