TMNT Characters
TMNT Characters
TMNT Characters
TMNT Characters
TMNT Characters

TV Series » Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)

The origin story in the 1987 TV series differs greatly from that of the original Mirage Studios comics, presumably to make it more appropriate for a family audience. In this version, Splinter was formerly a human being, an honorable ninja master named Hamato Yoshi. 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 New York City, where he was forced to live in the sewers.

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 (Raphael), and Michelangelo Buonarroti (Michaelangelo). In most versions, the Turtles tend to go by nicknames Leo, Donny, 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, complimented by a long cape, and a metal mask over his mouth. He has also taken on the pseudonym "The Shredder".

It becomes clear in the first season that the mutagen that transformed the Turtles and Splinter into their new forms was dumped into the sewer by Shredder in an effort to destroy Yoshi. Shredder thought it was 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 want to force him to turn Splinter back into a human again, though this quickly evolves into stopping Shredder's ongoing criminal career with the aid of Channel 6 reporter April O'Neil. 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.

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 his and The Shredder's base of operation) to the surface as it was either stuck in the earth's core, Dimension X, the arctic or Arctic Ocean.

In the last two seasons of the show, the Turtles finally banish The Shredder and Krang to Dimension X. They destroy the engines and the "trans-dimensional portal" of the Technodrome preventing them from ever returning to Earth. The show, which had already lasted well past the average lifespan of most Saturday morning cartoon series, then went through dramatic changes. The animation became darker and closer to the original comic book 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 film, and the show took on a darker, more action-oriented atmosphere.

A new villain, Lord Dregg, an evil alien warlord, also appears as their new chief nemesis. Lord Dregg begins a propaganda campaign against the Turtles, turning the general population against them and in favor of him and his forces. In the last episode of the series, the Turtles trap Dregg in Dimension X.

In addition to the new story, the Turtles, as well as the other characters, are seen breaking the fourth wall by saying things to the audience and talking both about their themesong and about their episodes.

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 legal reasons, none of the original voice actors were able to reprise their roles, and replacement actors were used instead. It is unknown in the 1987 series continuity at which point in time its Turtles and the rest of the cast are taken from, though due to the style of animation used and comical personalities of the characters, it is assumed that they are from some point between Seasons 1 and 7 (1987 - 1993).

Episode Guide
Season 1
» Turtle Tracks
» Enter the Shredder
» A Thing About Rats
» Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X
» Shredder & Splintered

Season 2
» Return of the Shredder
» The Incredible Shrinking Turtles
» It Came from Beneath the Sewers
» The Mean Machines
» Curse of the Evil Eye
» Case of the Killer Pizzas
» Enter: The Fly
» Invasion of the Punk Frogs
» Splinter No More
» New York's Shiniest
» Teenagers from Dimension X
» The Cat Woman from Channel Six
» Return of the Technodrome

Season 3
» Beneath These Streets
» Turtles on Trial
» Attack of the 50 Foot Irma
» The Maltese Hamster
» Sky Turtles
» The Old Switcheroo
» Burne's Blues
» The Fifth Turtle
» Enter the Rat King
» Turtles at the Earth's Core
» April's Fool
» Attack of Big MACC
» The Ninja Sword of Nowhere
» 20,000 Leaks Under the City
» Take Me to Your Leader
» Four Musketurtles
» Turtles, Turtles Everywhere
» Cowabunga Shredhead
» Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers
» Camera Bugged
» Green With Jealousy
» Return of the Fly
» Casey Jones: Outlaw Hero
» Mutagen Monster
» Corporate Raiders from Dimension X
» Pizza by the Shred
» Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady
» Beware the Lotus
» Blast from the Past
» Leatherhead: Terror of the Swamp
» Michaelangelo's Birthday
» Usagi Yojimbo
» Case of the Hot Kimono
» Usagi Come Home
» The Making of Metalhead
» Leatherhead Meets the Rat King
» The Turtle Terminator
» The Great Boldini
» The Missing Map
» The Gang's All Here
» The Grybyx
» Mr. Ogg Goes to Town
» Shredderville
» Bye Bye Fly
» The Big Rip Off
» The Big Break-In
» The Big Blow Out

Season 4
» Plan 6 from Outer Space
» Turtles of the Jungle
» Michaelangelo Toys Around
» Peking Turtle
» Shredder's Mom
» Four Turtles and a Baby
» Turtlemaniac
» Rondo in New York
» Planet of the Turtles
» Name That Toon
» Menace, Maestro Please
» Super Hero for a Day
» Back to the Egg
» Son of Return of the Fly
» Raphael Knocks 'em Dead
» Bebop and Rocksteady Conquer the Universe
» Raphael Meets His Match
» Slash - The Evil Turtle from Dimension X
» Leonardo Lightens Up
» Were-Rats from Channel 6
» Funny, They Shrunk Michaelangelo
» The Big Zipp Attack
» Donatello Makes Time
» Farewell, Lotus Blossom
» Rebel Without a Fin
» The Adventures of Rhino-Man
» Michaelangelo Meets Bugman
» Poor Little Rich Turtle
» What's Michaelangelo Good For?
» The Dimension X Story
» Donatello's Degree
» The Big Cufflink Caper!
» Leonardo VS Tempestra
» Splinter Vanishes
» Raphael Drives 'em Wild
» Beyond the Donatello Nebula
» Big Bug Blunder
» The Foot Soldiers Are Revolting
» Unidentified Flying Leonardo

Season 5
» The Turtles and the Hare
» Once Upon a Time Machine
» My Brother, the Bad Guy
» Michaelangelo Meets Mondo Gecko
» Enter Mutagen Man
» Donatello's Bad Time
» Michaelangelo Meets Bugman Again
» Muckman Messes Up
» Napoleon Bonafrog: Colossus of the Swamps
» Raphael VS the Volcano
» Landlord of the Flies
» Donatello's Duplicate
» The Ice Creature Cometh
» Leonardo Cuts Loose
» Pirate Radio
» Turtle of a Thousand Faces
» Leonardo, Renaissance Turtle
» Zach and the Alien Invaders
» Welcome Back, Polarisoids
» Michaelangelo, the Sacred Turtle
» Planet of the Turtleoids Part One
» Planet of the Turtleoids Part Two

Season 6
» Rock Around the Block
» Krangenstein Lives!
» Super Irma
» Adventures in Turtle-Sitting
» The Sword of Yurikawa
» Return of the Turtleoids
» Shreeka's Revenge
» Too Hot to Handle
» Nightmare in the Lair
» Phantom of the Sewers
» Donatello Trashes Slash
» Leonardo is Missing
» Snakes Alive!
» Polly Wanna Pizza
» Mr. Nice Guy
» Sleuth on the Loose

Season 7
» Tower of Power
» Rust Never Sleeps
» A Real Snow Job
» Venice on the Half-Shell
» Artless
» Ring of Fire
» The Irish Jig is Up
» Shredder's New Sword
» The Lost Queen of Atlantis
» Turtles on the Orient Express
» April Gets in Dutch
» Northern Lights Out
» Elementary, My Dear Turtle
» Night of the Dark Turtle
» The Starchild
» The Legend of Koji
» Convicts from Dimension X
» White Belt, Black Heart
» Night of the Rogues
» Attack of the Nuetrinos
» Escape from the Planet of the Turtleoids
» Revenge of the Fly
» Atlantis Awakes
» Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter
» Invasion of the Krangezoids
» Combat Land
» Shredder Triumphant

Season 8
» Get Shredder!
» Wrath of the Rat King
» State of Shock
» Cry H.A.V.O.C.!
» H.A.V.O.C. in the Streets
» Enter: Krakus
» Cyber-Turtles
» Turtle Trek

Season 9
» The Unknown Ninja
» Dregg of the Earth
» The Wrath of Medusa
» The New Mutation
» The Showdown
» Split-Second
» Carter, the Enforcer
» Doomquest

Season 10
» The Return of Dregg
» The Beginning of the End
» The Power of Three
» A Turtle in Time
» Turtles to the Second Power
» Mobster from Dimension X
» The Day the Earth Disappeared
» Divide and Conquer


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