One thing I’ve learned since being a mom is that you must engage with your children’s interests to sustain their attention at times. I currently have a 4 year old son who is obsessed with the Ninja Turtles, so in turn I have had to learn everything I can about these guys!
Ever since he was 2, he could say all of the Ninja Turtles names by color and could tell me a little bit about each one. So the reason for this blog post is to educate other parents in the same thing so that they can engage their children by those interests as well.
At times when I’m teaching math concepts, reading, or just coloring a picture, my son won’t do it unless it’s about a Ninja Turtle. So it’s safe to say that I know my fair share of Ninja Turtle info.
Now you will too!
What is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a popular show that started in the 1990’s. It follows four turtle brothers trained in ninjutsu who fight evil in New York City.
The franchise began as a comic book and later turned into an animated series and live action films. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are created when four baby turtles are exposed to radioactive ooze, transforming them into humanoids. They fight evil in New York City, where they reside in sewers.
Ninja Turtle Names and Colors
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are known distinctively by color from their bandana. Each Ninja Turtle portrays a different personality which you’ll learn by name and color below.
Their names are Leonardo, Rafael, Donatello, and Michelangelo. They are led by Master Splinter, a mutant rat that is their adoptive father and leader.
The Turtles are assisted by April O’Neil, who is a news reporter, lab assistant, or genius computer programmer.
Leonardo is the leader and of course, the most disciplined and skilled Ninja Turtle. He is an expert swordsman, wielding two katana (Japanese swords), and wears a blue bandana.
Being the oldest brother of the four Ninja Turtles, he takes charge when Master Splinter is not around. He prefers to fight with katana, but has been known to use any weapon he can get his hands on if needed.
“My favorite ninja turtle was Leonardo because of his leadership abilities. This inspired me to want to become a leader someday. I was not sure what I would lead, but I knew that motivation would lead to something.” says Tim Connon.
In addition to this I loved his 2 Katana swords as his weapons. I thought those were the best kind of weapons for a ninja.
Rafael is the strongest ninja turtle and also very confident in his abilities. He wears a red bandana and is typically armed with twin sai (Japanese stabbing weapons).
“His unparalleled combat skills and unique abilities make Rafael the ultimate Ninja Turtle. It is widely recognized that Raphael is the best ninja turtle, as he possesses the power not only to strike down his foes, but also to heal the sick and injured, or even stir the waters.” states Trent Copperfield.
This inherent versatility is what sets Raphael apart from the other turtles. Apart from his exceptional abilities, what draws me to Raphael is his aggressive and rebellious nature. His unwavering determination and fearlessness in the face of danger is something to be admired.
He is not one to back down from a fight, and always stands up forwhat he believes in. Raphael’s unique blend of combat skills, healing abilities, and rebellious nature make him the ultimate ninja turtle, and it is no wonder why he is the favorite of so many.
Donatello is the smartest, most intellectual ninja turtle and he wears a purple bandana. He is known to use his brains to invent new gadgets and vehicles.
Donatello’s weapon of choice is the bo, a long wooden stick, which he uses to defend himself and fight evil.
“Donatello was the most level-headed of the four, always looking for a better solution to problems. I loved his scientific approach to finding solutions and felt he was the most relatable of all the turtles.” states Mark Joseph from Parental Queries.
“I was a tinkerer, and I loved putting things apart and putting them back together, just like Donatello. I related to him in that way and admired his intelligence, courage, and ingenuity. To this day, Donatello taught me that no matter how tough things may seem, you can always find a way to make it work if you put your mind to it. That’s something I’ll never forget.”
Michelangelo is the wild and crazy ninja turtle as he’s the youngest of them all. Known as the “party dude,” he isn’t quite disciplined, but always loving and a good friend.
I love his outgoing and fun-loving personality. He always brings a sense of humor to the group and has a positive attitude, even in the face of danger.
He’s shown to be the fastest and most agile of all the brothers so he’s quick to fight and can get away from enemies fast. Michelangelo wears an orange bandana and uses nunchucks to fight, which are two sticks connected to each other by a short metal chain.
Michelangelo is the most fun and outgoing of the four, and he had the best sense of humor. He was also the most creative and inventive of the group, always coming up with clever solutions to problems.
He was also the most relaxed turtle, which made him a great friend to have around. Always up for a good time and was willing to try anything.
Michelangelo’s nunchucks are also an exciting weapon to watch in action, and his acrobatic skills are impressive.
Other Main Characters
Splinter is a mutant rat who is the wise adoptive father of the Turtles and teaches them ninjitsu. The Turtles’ nemesis is the Shredder, who leads the criminal ninja clan known as the Foot. His real identity is usually the ninja Oroku Saki.
Who is the Best Ninja Turtle?
Each turtle has their own distinct personality and skill set, making it difficult to say who the “best” is. Leonardo is often seen as the leader of the group, while Michelangelo is known for his humor and love of pizza. Donatello is the team’s inventor and tech expert, and Raphael is the group’s hotheaded enforcer.
In terms of who has the best heart, it could be argued that each turtle has their moments of kindness and selflessness. However, Leonardo is often portrayed as the most honorable and disciplined member of the group, always striving to do what is right and lead by example.
Who are the Ninja Turtles Named After?
As you can tell, the Ninja Turtle names were all inspired by 14th-18th century Italian renaissance artists.
Leonardo was named after the artist and creative genius Leonardo da Vinci, famously known for the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and Vitruvian Man. He is one of the most fascinating figures in Western art history, being a painter and sculptor who studied under Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence.
He was a genius inventor of his time, not only painting and sculpting, but designing architecture of buildings that were pioneers during his time, as well as mapping out the night sky.
Michelangelo was named after da Vinci’s rival Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. He is famous for being the painter of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and sculptor of David.
Nicknamed Il Divino “The Divine One,” he was best known for his artistic work, but primarily enjoyed sculpting the most.
Donatello was named after Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, a famous sculptor that developed the Renaissance’s “style” of sculpture. He is known for his bronze sculpture of David that sits at the Bargello museum in Florence and famously noted to create “life bursting out of stone.”
Raphael was named after Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, a famed Vatican painter and architect. Raphaels Madonnas and large sculptures in the Vatican are his famous work.
Themes that TMNT Teaches
Most shows or movies can have an overall theme which develops into a lesson learned especially for young children. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles displays the following lessons to it’s fans:
Be a friend to anyone
Although Rafael, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello were turtles, they still became friends with April O’Neil despite her being a human. Typically, most would only be friends with others of their kind, but this theme helps show kids that it’s important to be a friend to anyone.
Given that the Ninja Turtles are 4 brothers, they really display a theme of caring about your family. Through thick and thin, the rules will come together as a family, even though they may not be getting along at times.
Never judge a book by its cover
The Ninja Turtles don’t look exactly like the type of people you would want to be friends with, but April doesn’t judge them. Similar to the theme of being a friend to anyone, they show us that you shouldn’t judge someone by what they look like.
Teamwork makes the dream work!
The Ninja Turtles have to work together to fight bad guys. They display team work by developing plans and strategies to combat evil together.
History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were the early creators of TMNT. In 1983, Eastman drew a masked turtle standing on its hind legs armed with nunchucks named a Ninja Turtle. Laird added the words “teenage mutant”. The concept contained certain elements of superhero comics at that time.
Soon, they developed their drawings and ideas into a comic book. They gave the turtles Italian Renaissance names which felt just quirky enough to fit the concept.
In 1987, they licensed TMNT to Playmates toys who sold $1.1 billion dollars in figurines and play sets within 4 years, making it the 3rd biggest toy franchise of the time. Soon after, an animated series was developed which became popular for it’s less offensive nature than most other comics and superhero series.
Since then, video games and movies came out while the TMNT franchise blew up in the 1990s.
I hope you understand where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have come from and now you can have a special bond with your son or daughter who is obsessed with them!