Their tale is one as old as time. Pet turtles get discarded into some nuclear sludge, they grow up to learn the ways of the ninja from a mutated rat and they end up saving the world from a disembodied brain and his minions.
In fact, did you know that The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is actually based off of “The Epic of Gilgamesh” with some elements from William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” thrown into the mix? You did not? That’s because it’s a bold face lie.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are actually the brainchild of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The two met in the mid-’80s and started developing a very tongue-in-cheek comic book featuring the foursome we all love today. They drew on some of the most popular tropes of the era — teens, mutants and ninjas. Comic books had been shoehorning younger characters into stories to give the reader someone to relate to — with Robin being the most famous example — and the popular “New Teen Titans” continued this tradition. Marvel can always count on the power of mutants with their X-Men and the eighties saw the revival of Daredevil, one of the most ninja-centric comics of the time. Thus TMNT started out as a bit of satire towards these overly familiar tropes.
The comic received some buzz when it came out, but it was not until it was adapted into a Saturday morning cartoon that the world caught Turtle Fever. With how heavily merchandised every movie, show or cartoon is these days, it’s hard to imagine that ever not being the case. But it was not until Star Wars that merchandising and media went hand-in-hand. During the ’80s there was an explosion of media properties serving primarily to sell toys. “GI Joe,” “Transformers” and “He-Man” followed this formula and in 1987 Eastman and Laird started licensing both toys and an animated program. Shortly thereafter it was impossible to get away from the turtles.
Over the years, there have been myriad different iterations of the turtles. There were live action movies, anime-style cartoons, comic books, video games and so much more. The one constant through it all is that Leonardo is the leader, Donatello does machines, Raphael is cool, but rude and Michelangelo is a party dude. When it comes to tattoos it should come as no surprise that the party dude seems to be the most popular subject, but there are so many rad Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tattoos that we were able to find some to represent the whole gang. Even the evil Krang has found his way into some rad ink.