For almost forty years the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have seeped into our collective consciousness through various different adaptations and become a cultural touchstone that most of us can feel affinity for. No cartoon, comic, or video game can work without a cast of characters and TMNT is no different. That’s why we’ve decided to take a peek at the top 10 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters and do to them what should’ve been done a long time ago – rank them.
It’s turtle time.
We’ll start at the bottom. Baxter Stockman isn’t the worst character ever by a long way but in terms of Turtle power rankings he’s severely lacking. Never a full villain he’s more an irritant, never managing to get the attention he wants. Most are probably familiar with him in fly-human form either from the TMNT cartoon or the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show.
Casey Jones isn’t a bad character all things considered, a hockey-themed vigilante isn’t necessarily a bad idea. What puts Casey Jones so far down the list is his position as merely a supporting character, one who shares a few visual attributes with a certain Mr. Jason from a certain horror film series. He’s fine, serviceable. No-one complains if he’s there in a storyline but relatively few would complain if he were absent.
He’s a party dude ok? And you will never, ever, ever be allowed to forget that. Michelangelo is the team comic relief which would work if he were funny, alas he rarely is. He doesn’t even get the cool weapons – instead being stuck with nunchucks, a weapon that inspired many children to smack themselves in the face. But hey, he loves pizza, and that’s a redeeming quality in this writer’s eyes.
It’s hard to put Splinter into a place here, without him there wouldn’t be any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the first place and he does an admirable job raising them. That said, he can be a little one-note. He’s wise, calm, patient, and an excellent teacher. Often though, that’s it. There simply isn’t much more to the character in some adaptations and while that means he’s great, he falls in the middle of the pack in this ranking.
Ah Leonardo. The leader of the group who comes armed with twin katanas. Leonardo can be a nuanced character, sometimes worrying about their position as leader and their anxieties about taking over for Master Splinter, but often they too are a little flat as a character. In the real world people devoted to doing good are wonderful but often in fiction they can be a little dull, in this case our poor Leonardo often comes out on the flatter side.
The problem with April O’Neil is how she’s treated in the majority of media. She’s a great character, or at least has the potential to be a great character, but that potential doesn’t always get fulfilled. Often relegated to ‘damsel in distress’ each adaptation seems to roll a die to see if she’ll be capable of not. Sometimes she’s basically a ninja, sometimes she’s psychic, often she’s just in trouble until the Turtles turn up. What I’m saying here is – she deserves better.
Krang doesn’t actually appear in many adaptations, like 2003’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon they only appeared as a brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo. That said, Krang’s impact on the series reverberates to this day, their appearances in the original cartoons mean many associate Krang and the Turtles incredibly strongly. After all, who doesn’t want their own Technodrome? Exactly.
Who doesn’t love a turtle who’s really into kicking Foot Clan butt? That’s right, Raphael is basically Batman with a shell and he’s not afraid to embrace his darker side to put the enemies of the Turtles down. That’d be enough but there’s often a core of uncertainty with Raphael in many versions, where his anger and search for justice covers his deep worries about being good enough for the team. Raphael’s a compelling character and definitely one of the top Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters of all time.
It had to be Shredder as the number one villain on this list, didn’t it. Shredder has had a few different interpretations through the years, from bitter rival of Splinter to an alien-powered mecha, but one thing always remains the same: Shredder is cool. Shredder’s armour is cool. Shredder’s motivations are often cool. Look, Shredder is cool and that’s about all we have to say about him.
The Turtles are brilliant warriors and that’s something we always see but without Donatello they could never have become full heroes. Donatello is an utter genius able to rub two machines together and come up with a third and many of the Turtles’ takedowns rely on his mechanical ability. Combine that with his trademark Bo-Staff and you’ve got a powerful fighter with a godlike intellect, if he wasn’t on the side of good that’d be seriously scary.
It’s time to hit the streets with the Turtles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, and you can do so for less when you shop with us. Head over to the Green Man Gaming store and grab yourself a copy, why not use the money you’ve saved to buy a pizza and live that turtle life. TMNT and Green Man Gaming make one lean, green, ninja team.
Honourable mentions: Bebop and Rocksteady
We’ve got basically nothing to say about Bebop and Rocksteady but we felt that if we didn’t mention them, we’d have a riot on our hands.