The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is a weird one. It was a massive success during the 90s and was able to nurse a healthy fanbase throughout its many iterations, and the franchise is still going strong to this day, save for a few dents because of the 2014 live action/CG film.
However, its success really started from the animated TV series, which is a softened version that is retooled to sell kid-targeted merchandise, much like every single kid’s show at that point in time. This made the much darker source material less famous and known only to comic book fans and those who dug deeper into the franchise (remember that this was before the Internet became a thing.)
For those of us who were weaned on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons and were blissfully content with what it had to offer, there are a bunch of little known facts about the original comic books that are worth knowing, such as:
#5 The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Was Meant to Be a Parody of Daredevil
While TMNT wasn’t specifically meant to mimic Daredevil’s story structure plot-for-plot, it uses key plot elements from Daredevil’s origin story and sort of tells the story of what happens after the accident that gave Matt Murdoch his powers. For instance, the chemical that blinded and gave the future lawyer enhanced senses is the same chemical that “oozed” down the sewers and mutated the Turtles.
There’s also a lot of references that are easy to catch for someone who’s looking. Master Splinter is a subtle reference to Daredevil’s own mentor, Stick, and The Foot Clan is a more obvious reference to the ninja clan on DD, The Hand.
#4 April O’ Neil Was Not Caucasian
April O’Neil’s iconic look is the one from the TMNT cartoon – Caucasian, red hair, and yellow orange jumpsuit. However, people who believe that Bay crapped all over the franchise when he turned her into Megan Fox might be spending unnecessary negative energy, because the original cartoon April O’Neil isn’t the original look the creators had in mind.
The original Mirage comic portrayed the intrepid reporter with black, curly hair and while black and white comic books make it difficult to identify skin color, Tales of the TMN #7 clearly showed that she had a much darker complexion.
#3 They Caused Hitler to Commit Suicide
The TMNT cartoons from the 90s was too kid-friendly to ever show something blatantly inspired by the Nazis, but Archie’s Ninja Turtles, though still kid-friendly publication, was a lot more liberal in the sense that Ninja Turtles Adventures #64 had the Turtles of the Future traveling through time in order to stop Hitler’s brain from going back in time and joining with his physical self. And they did it by claiming to be demons that have already acquired Hitler’s soul, and are now after his mind. In order to protect his brain, Hitler decided to shoot himself in the head, implying that the Turtles are the main reason for Hitler’s suicide.
#2 They Killed the Devil
Though the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a lot of experience fighting aliens and creatures strong enough to bend metal, their main M.O. has always been to deal with “street level” bad guys – basically enemies that you can physically hurt and punch into submission. However, during their Archie Comics run, they fought a horned being named Mr. Null, who claims to be the devil, and his demonic Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
As if fighting the fallen himself is not enough, the Turtles – with the help (and sacrifice) of former villain turned honorary member Slash – killed Mr. Null, but not before the self-proclaimed devil managed to have his henchmen brutally murder the Mighty Mutanimals.
#1 They Were Hitmen, Not Heroes
One of the key defining traits of the TMNT cartoon is that the four turtles are wholesome heroes. They like to have fun, eat pizza, joke around, and their fights never result in a death. In fact, you won’t even see any blood no matter how intense their action scenes get.
However, the original comic from Mirage Studios was very clear when it comes to Splinter’s motivation for training the quartet: Kill Shredder. Because many years ago, Shredder killed Splinter’s owner (oh, did I forget that Splinter was an actual rat in the comics and not a man who turned into a rat?)
And the Turtles did exactly what he wanted. They call Shredder out and proceed to kill all of his ninja henchmen, then they give Shredder a chance to die honorably. But instead of commit seppuku, Shredder tried to bomb him. Not a good idea. The Turtles throw him from the building and he got blown up along with his bomb.