If you've been on the internet lately, odds are a few people were complaining about the latest incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - now brought to you by professional childhood-ruiner Michael Bay. It's your typical fare for a Michael Bay movie (note that he's only producing it) - lots of destruction, military presence, Megan Fox, the words "Michael Bay" appearing on screen sending a shudder down your spine, etc. It looks pretty dumb - but here's the catch: TMNT has ALWAYS been dumb. And dumb in a way that's meant to appeal to whatever generation of kids it's aiming for. This new version isn't ruining your childhood any more than pretty much every single previous version of TMNT. Let's take a look back...
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)
After a long absence from the world of animation, TMNT returned in 2003. It was an attempt to bridge the gap between the original animated series and the comics that started it all - there were less terrible puns, more attempts at character development, and less goofy slapstick music.
Why It "Ruined" TMNT: After a few seasons, the show was completely retooled multiple times - one involving the turtles training to learn a bunch of mystical abilities in order to defeat some alternate version of Shredder, another that sent them 100 years into the future, and another that sent them back to the present day to battle a cybernetic version of Shredder. By the end, it was a mess of unintelligible abandoned plotlines and directionless virtual reality action. Also, the opening song was REALLY bad.
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (1997)
Finally - a TMNT show that uses the creepy actors-covered-in-rubber aesthetic of the original films! This was a dream come true for kids everywhere who rushed home after school because organized sports was a terrifying prospect.
Why It "Ruined" TMNT: The big hook for The Next Mutation was the addition of a new turtle character - a sister for the core group, named Venus de Milo. Really, the group could totally stand to have another female voice beyond yellow-jumpsuit wearing reporters. Unfortunately, Venus de Milo looked like this:
Yep. They straight up added turtle boobs, which is extremely creepy-looking. You know what the difference between male turtles and female turtles is? Hint: it's not human-esque shell-breasts (it has to do more with the position of the cloaca and the concavity of the shell). Venus was so poorly received that Peter Laird (co-creator of TMNT) will not allow her to ever be mentioned in TMNT again.
However, in the world of erotic fan art, Peter Laird has no power, and GOOD LUCK searching for TMNT stuff in Google Images without running into some seriously upsetting Venus de Milo pictures.
Mutant Turtles: Superman Legend (1996)
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles meets anime" is pretty close to the wet dream of every indoor kid from the early 90s. And there was one!
Why It "Ruined" TMNT: ...one that lasted two episodes, each of which was designed to specifically market a new toyline. Also, taking a nod from Power Rangers, the four turtles could combine themselves (Megazord-style) into a single powerful entity called Turtle Saint.
Also, the turtles powered up to turn into ultra-creepy Wolverine-turtle knockoffs. So there's that, too.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Image Comics (1996)
The Ninja Turtles were getting back to their darker comic roots with the Image Comics relaunch of the series, even returning to the black-and-white artwork of the original.
Why It "Ruined" TMNT: ...aaaand it was TOO dark. Like, WAY too dark. Like, an INSANE amount of too dark for a story of mutant turtles who were good at karate, which is sorta an inherently silly, light-hearted concept.
Leonardo lost a hand. Raphael was horrifically burned across his face. Donatello was paralyzed and turned into a cyborg. Splinter became a mutant bat. Raphael eventually BECOMES the Shredder. It was like someone spilled a bunch of Batman plotpoints into the mix. Whatever Michael Bay does, he probably won't resort to this stuff.