1 9 8 7 – 1 9 9 6 (USA)
193 x 30 minute episodes
Four pet shop turtles – Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo – accidentally fall into the New York sewer system, where they are contaminated by ‘Mutogen’.
As a result, they begin to walk upright, talk, and fight a fearless crusade for justice, primarily against the evil Shredder (voiced by James Avery from Fresh Prince of Bel Air). They are aided in this endeavour by copious quantities of pizza.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may go down in television history as one of the most profitable jokes of all time.
They were conceived in 1983 as a napkin doodle by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird as a parody of the Japanese samurai-type heroes which occupied many comic strips at that time.
A Turtle comic book followed, with the characters picked up by Group W for an animated TV series in 1987, and succeeded in turn by two hit live-action cinema features, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of The Ooze (1991).
In Britain, concerns about the Turtles’ use of ‘Ninja’ fighting techniques resulted in both the series and movies being retitled Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.