A library’s worth of comic books, multiple successful animated series, half a dozen movies, a bonanza of video games, enough toys and action figures to sink a battleship, millions of albums sold, and a “live”, touring rock ‘n roll stage show. When talking about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles it starts to become easier to try to think of the aspects of pop culture they haven’t conquered. But what’s even more astounding than that is when you realize they’ve conquered so many of these corners of the zeitgeist over and over.

For the last three decades, these radioactive, sewer-dwelling reptiles have time and again reinvented themselves for new generations of fans eager to learn more about martial arts and pizza, as well as pulling back in former “party dudes/dudettes” who now have little would be Turtle fans of their own. Or, you know, people who are old enough to have kids, but don’t, and are just happy to see the Ninja Turtles re-emerge from the depths to take over the airwaves and toy aisles yet again.

It’s hard to figure out what it is exactly about the concept of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that is so easy to get behind anew every five to ten years. I don’t think you could focus group a property that somehow manages to tick so many people’s “I Love These Guys” boxes, so what is it that makes such a weird premise so universal?

Maybe it’s that the four Turtles themselves all have such different and well-defined personalities that it’s easy for people to see a bit of themselves in one of them. Ask any friend, and I’d be willing to bet they all have a Turtle they see themselves as. But lots of shows have had diverse casts. Maybe it’s the fighting? But there are lots of shows and movies with martial arts. Do people just like turtles? Is it the pizza? Is it the catchphrases?

Whatever it is that people love about the Ninja Turtles, it’s inspired a ton of amazing art, and we hope you enjoy this small sampling. Check out the artist’s respective sites, show them some love, and let us know what you love most about the Heroes in a Half-Shell in the comments.


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