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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 series)


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 series)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Genre Action/Adventure
Science fiction
Martial arts
Format Animated series
Created by Kevin Eastman
Peter Laird
Fred Wolf
Developed by David Wise
Directed by Yoshikatsu Kasai (season 1)
Bill Wolf (seasons 2–7)
Tony Love (seasons 8–10)
Voices of Cam Clarke
Townsend Coleman
Barry Gordon
Rob Paulsen
Michael Gough
Peter Renaday
Renae Jacobs
Pat Fraley
James Avery
Jim Cummings
Tony Jay
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) Fred Wolf
Kevin Eastman
Peter Laird
Producer(s) Rudy Zamora (season 1)
Walt Kubiak
Andy Luckey (seasons 2–7)
Bill Wolf
Kara Vallow (seasons 8–10)
Running time 22 minutes
Production companies Murakami Wolf Swenson[1]
Fred Wolf Films
Mirage Studios
Surge Licensing
Distributor Group W Productions (1987–1990)
Original channel first-run syndication (Seasons 1—3)[2]
CBS (Seasons 4—10)[2]
Picture format 480i SDTV
Audio format MTS Stereo
Original run December 14, 1987 – November 2, 1996
Followed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 TV series)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in Europe due to controversy at the time) is an American animated television series produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson. The pilot was shown during the week of December 14, 1987 in syndication as a five-part miniseries and began its official run on October 1, 1988.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[6] 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. 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 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 di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (Michelangelo). 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.[7]

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".[8]

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 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.[9]

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,[10] though they later return for a few episodes in season ten.[11] 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.[12] Dregg is eventually outed as a villain and the Turtles are finally hailed as heroes within the city.[13] In the last episode of the series, the Turtles trap Dregg in Dimension X.[14]

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 TMNT series, confirmed in an interview that the 1987 Turtles would cameo in a one-hour special alongside their 2012 counterparts in Season 2. Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, Barry Gordon and Rob Paulsen will be reprising their roles as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael, respectively.[15]


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 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 penned the theme song (and did the spoken parts) and became a successful television producer. 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.

Voice acting

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."[16]

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.[16]

"[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."
Renae Jacobs, Interview[17]


Main Characters


  • Leonardo (voiced by Cam Clarke) – The blue-masked turtle, wields two razor-sharp katanas. He is the leader and commander of the team who is the closest to Splinter and is also the most serious member of the team who values his leadership.
  • Michelangelo (voiced by Townsend Coleman) – The orange-masked turtle, wields the whirling nunchaku and later a grappling hook (and often whirling pizzas). He is the most relaxed member of the team and is the source for many of the catch phrases of the series such as "Cowabunga!". Michelangelo often thinks of ways he and his brothers can have fun and is the party dude, he is also obsessed with pizza and will just about scope out any topping to put on his pizza.
  • Donatello (voiced by Barry Gordon and Greg Berg for some episodes of the third season and the European Vacation side-season) – The purple-masked turtle, wields a really long and tall staff. He is the scientist of the team and is constantly tinkering with various inventions. Donatello's capabilities in science and technology have been key factors for the Turtles' success in their battles.
  • Raphael (voiced by Rob Paulsen until the end of season 9 and Michael Gough in season 10) – The red-masked turtle, wields two sai. In a radical departure from the angry and brooding incarnations, he is the jokester of the team and often comes out with sarcastic and witty remarks. Raphael teases the other turtles, but can also brighten the mood up for the show and constantly breaks the fourth wall.


  • Splinter (voiced by Peter Renaday, Townsend Coleman for some episodes of Season 5) – A strict and wizened sensei that was a former classmate of Oroku Saki until Oroku set him up for an offense towards his master which he didn't commit and was kicked out. Since then, he lived in the sewers of Manhattan as a homeless man. Upon being exposed to the mutagen at the same time when four turtles were exposed, Hamato Yoshi transformed into a mutant rat (which he had come in contact with while in the sewers) who trained the Turtles in ninjutsu.
  • April O'Neil (voiced by Renae Jacobs) – A red-headed TV reporter from Channel 6 News, discovers the Turtles' home in the sewers and befriends the TMNT.
  • Casey Jones (voiced by Pat Fraley) - A street-fighting vigilante who is friends with the Ninja Turtles. He fights using sports equipment and wears a hockey mask.


  • Shredder (voiced by James Avery until early in Season 7, Dorian Harewood for some episodes of season 3, Jim Cummings for some episodes of Season 5 & the European Vacation side-season, Townsend Coleman for the rest of Season 7, and Bill Martin thereafter) – The arch-villain of the Turtles, is usually the main villain in other media, but in this TV series Shredder always, against his will, has to take orders from Krang. In his earlier life, he was Oroku Saki, a teammate of Hamato Yoshi until he set him up for an offense towards the sensei which he didn't commit and was kicked out.
  • Krang (voiced by Pat Fraley in most episodes, Townsend Coleman for a few episodes from season 3) – An extremely intelligent, disembodied brain from Dimension X, who commands the Technodrome. He funds and helps plan most of Shredder's schemes.
  • Rocksteady (voiced by Cam Clarke) - Rocksteady is one of Shredder's clumsy oafish henchmen. Rocksteady was originally a member of an unnamed street gang that was on Shredder's side. Rocksteady was exposed to Mutagen in Shredder's experiments that turned him into a mutant rhinoceros after coming in contact with a rhinoceros that was stolen from the zoo.
  • Bebop (voiced by Barry Gordon in most episodes, Greg Berg in some episodes of Season 3) – One of Shredder's clumsy oafish henchmen. Bebop was originally a member of an unnamed street gang that was on Shredder's side. Bebop was exposed to Mutagen in Shredder's experiments that turned him into a mutant warthog after coming in contact with a warthog that was stolen from the zoo.
  • General Traag (voiced by Peter Renaday) - The leader of the Rock Soldiers who works for Krang.
    • Lietenant Granitor (voiced by Pat Fraley) - A Rock Soldier who is General Traag's righ-hand man.
  • Rat King (voiced by Townsend Coleman) - Rat King is a homeless man living in a dilapidated portion of the New York City sewer system near the Turtles and Splinter. In episodes featuring him, the Rat King would often enact some sort of plot to establish his own rat-controlled government and bring human rule to an end, believing that rats (which he counted himself as) were superior to all other species, whom he described as "inferior non-rodents."
  • Baxter Stockman (voiced by Pat Fraley) - Baxter Stockman was a misguided blond European-American inventor (as opposed to a dark-haired African-American as he was portrayed in the Mirage comics) who tried to bill his Mousers to the Ajax Pest Control company. They did not like his suggestion saying it would put them out of business (the Mouser was too effective and there would soon be no more rats to kill) and threw him out of the building. He was approached by Shredder to replicate his Mousers to hunt down Splinter. After the Ninja Turtles defeated the Mousers, Baxter Stockman was arrested and thrown in the asylum. Shredder later broke him out where Baxter Stockman became Shredder's lackey and helped him to get the "Three Fragments of the Eye of Sarnath" (an alien artifact that would grant the owner virtually limitless power). Shredder later traded Baxter Stockman to Krang for the return of Bebop and Rocksteady. When Krang found no use for Baxter and decided to kill him, a fly that had been on Baxter soon merged with him turning him into a humanoid fly. He has occasionally had revenge plots against the Ninja Turtles and Shredder. On a related note, Baxter Stockman had a twin brother named Barney who threw fits whenever the Turtles mistook him for Baxter.
  • Leatherhead (voiced by Jim Cummings in most episodes, Peter Renaday in "Night of the Rogues") - Leatherhead is a large alligator who had mutated when he swam through a Mutagen-polluted part of the swamp. He hunted the Turtles' allies the Punk Frogs and then went after them. He then proceeded to hunt the Turtles on their own turf in the sewer.
  • Smash (voiced by Peter Cullen) - Leader of the "Slash for Cash Dojo."
  • Ray (voiced by Pat Fraley) - A humanoid fish created by Dr. Polidorius to serve him. He is not to be confused with Ray Fillet.
  • Tokka and Rahzar (voiced by Rob Paulsen and Townsend Coleman) - Two out-of-control mutants created by Shredder when he released mutagen into the city zoo a while back, Tokka is an alligator snapping turtle, and Rahzar is a gray wolf. Their names in the show are misspelled as Toka and Razar.
  • Lord Dregg (voiced by Tony Jay) – An alien warlord who antagonizes the Turtles in Season 9 and Season 10 after Shredder and Krang are banished to Dimension X. By the end of the series, Lord Dregg ends up banished to Dimension X following the final battle.
    • HiTech (voiced by Rob Paulsen in Season 9, Cam Clarke in Season 10) - An insect-like alien in high tech armor who is Lord Dregg's second-in-command. When Mung proves more efficient as second-in-command, Lord Dregg blasts HiTech off in a pod to "orbit the galaxy".
    • Mung (voiced by Cam Clarke) - A hunchbacked beetle-like henchman of Lord Dregg who replaced HiTech in the final season. He is a technical and mechanical genius where he surpasses HiTech.
    • TechnoGang - A gang of insect-like foot soldiers that serve Lord Dregg.
    • Batmen - A group of ugly winged humanoid that serve as the alternate foot soldiers for Lord Dregg.

Other Characters

  • Channel 6 News Staff - The workers of Channel 6 News that often have involvements with the Ninja Turtles. Following the destruction of the Channel 6 News building during Season 8, these characters slowly faded out of the show.
    • Burne Thompson (voiced by Pat Fraley in most episodes, Townsend Coleman in one episode in Season 3) - April and Irma's boss at Channel 6 News.
    • Vernon Fenwick (voiced by Pat Fraley in Season 1, Peter Renaday in later seasons) - April's cameraman and rival news reporter.
    • Irma Langinstein (voiced by Jennifer Darling) – Channel 6's secretary who debuts from season 2. She is a friend of April and she also befriends the TMNT.
  • Zach the Fifth Turtle (voiced by Rob Paulsen) - A 14-year-old teenager who is the turtles biggest fan. Also has an older brother called Walt, and a female friend called Caitlin.
  • Carter (voiced by Bumper Robinson) - Introduced in season nine, he comes to New York to study martial arts under Splinter. He is accidentally exposed to the Turtles' Mutagen which causes him to spontaneously mutate between his human and mutant forms, and Carter was able to help the turtles throughout Seasons Nine and Ten against Dregg. During Season Ten, although Carter wanted to return to College and was prepared to leave after Donatello is able to stabilize his mutation, he learns from April that the Turtles were in trouble from Dregg, Krang, and Shredder. While assisting the Turtles and their past selves that were transported from the past by their friends from the future Landor and Merrick, Carter found that he could still mutate. After the battle in the episode "Turtles to the Second Power", Carter accepts Landor and Merrick's offer to travel with them to the future so he can be fully cured of his mutation.
  • The Punk Frogs - The frog-like counterparts of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who were created by Shredder and trained in the martial arts. They turned against Shredder and became allies of the Ninja Turtles.
    • Attila the Frog (voiced by Cam Clarke) - A Punk Frog that is armed with a mace. He is named after Attila the Hun.
    • Ghengis Frog (voiced by Jim Cummings) - A Punk Frog that is armed with an axe. He is named after Ghengis Khan.
    • Napoleon Bonafrog (voiced by Pat Fraley) - A Punk Frog that is armed with a whip. He is named after Napoleon Bonaparte.
    • Rasputin the Mad Frog (voiced by Nicholas Omana) - A Punk Frog that is armed with a bow and arrow. He is named after Grigori Rasputin.
  • The Neutrinos - An alien race of teenagers from Dimension X, whose only goal in life is to have fun.
  • Usagi Yojimbo (voiced by Townsend Coleman) - A samurai rabbit and a master swordsman from an alternative universe's/reality's 16th century Edo Period Japan where animals are the dominant species on Earth, not humans. He appeared in two episodes. Usagi Yojimbo is a comic book series created by Stan Sakai starring the ronin hero rabbit, Miyamoto Usagi, which had several crossovers with the TMNT comics; apparently the TV show writers did not understand the distinction and misnamed the character after the comic book.
  • Kerma (voiced by Jan Rabson) - A Turtleoid from the planet Shell-Ri-La who arrives in Earth seeking the Turtles help in protecting his home planet.
  • Mona Lisa (voiced by Pat Musick) - A teenage girl who was turned into a mutant reptile. She is potentially Raphael's love interest and appears in "Raphael Meets His Match."
  • Walt (voiced by Nicholas Omana) - Zach's older brother.
  • Rex-1 (voiced by Jack Angel) - A robot policeman built to keep crimes out of the city.


International broadcasting

In the UK, TMNT was released under the name Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (TMHT). This was due to the controversy surrounding ninjas and related weapons such as nunchaku at the time.[18] 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.[19]

The TMHT version was aired in other European countries, including Ireland (except series 1, which had the original title), Belgium, Germany, Austria, Poland, 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.

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 Network Seven, 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 which 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.[20] 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.[21] Many episodes were released on many VHS tapes from 1988 to 1996 by Family Home Entertainment. 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,[22] but the show was regularly rerun on RTÉ Two until 2008.[23] In Yugoslavia the series was broadcast on RTS and on RTV Pink for several years until 2002. In Denmark the show is aired every weekday at 6.00 am on TV 2.


IGN named TMNT as the 55th best show in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows.[24] 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. 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.

At the time, the series was criticised for its commercialism and violent content.[25][26][27][28][29]

DVD releases

Region 1

Lionsgate Home Entertainment has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1.[30] 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.[31] 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.[32] The 23-disc set features all 193 episodes of the series as well as bonus features. It will also contain special collectors edition packaging.

On July 23, 2013, Lionsgate will re-release all 47 episodes of season 3 together in a 4-disc box set.[33]

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 39 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.
  • All new interviews with James Avery (the voice of Shredder) and Pat Fraley (the voice of Krang/Slash)
  • Fresh from the Oven: A Recipe for a Cowabunga Cheese Pizza, Fit for a Ninja Turtle
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
  • "The Turtles: A Ninjatastic Look Back" featuring all new-interviews with Barry Gordon (Donatello), Rob Paulsen (Raphael), Cam Clarke (Leonardo), and Townsend Coleman (Michelangelo).
  • "Under The Shell" with Usagi Yojimbo (interview with Townsend Coleman) and Baxter Stockman.
Season 6 16 April 8, 2008 Contains all 16 episodes from Season 6.
Season 7 27 May 12, 2009 Contains all 27 episodes from Season 7 and the "Vacation in Europe" mini-series.
  • Re-released on November 3, 2009 as a complete season set minus the figurines.
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.[31]
  • Interviews with the animators.
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).[34]

Region 2

The first volume of the 25th Anniversary Edition, containing all episodes from the first two seasons in a PAL format, has been released on Region 2 DVDs by Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

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.

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.
  • First released in 5 Single DVDs entitled "Disks".
  • Later released as a DVD Collection containing this 5 Disks.
  • Both, the Single Release and the Collection only includes the German Audio Track.
Box 1 25 5 March 12, 2009 Contains all episodes from seasons 1 and 2, plus first 7 episodes from Season 3.
  • Contains the German Hero Turtles TV Version and the Uncut US Version as well.
Box 2 5 May 3, 2010 Contains 25 more episodes from Season 3.
  • Contains the German Hero Turtles TV Version and the Uncut US Version as well.
  • The 25 included episodes are announced to be in chronological Order.
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.
  • Contains the German Hero Turtles TV Version and the Uncut US Version as well.
  • The 30 included episodes are announced to be in chronological Order.
Box 4 6 October 17, 2011 Contains 30 more episodes from Season 4.
  • Contains the German Hero Turtles TV Version and the Uncut US Version as well.
  • The 30 included episodes are announced to be in chronological Order.
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.
  • Contains the German Hero Turtles TV Version and the Uncut US Version as well.
  • The 30 included episodes are announced to be in chronological Order.
Box 6 29 6 February 12, 2012 Contains the remaining Episodes from Season 6 as well as all of Season 7.
  • Contains the German Hero Turtles TV Version and the Uncut US Version as well.
  • The 29 included episodes are announced to be in chronological Order.

Region 4

The Series is being released in Australia by Lions Gate 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. [35]

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.


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • Big Cartoon DataBase


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