Let me start of by making it clear that I have nothing but love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Several boxes filled with the shelled heroes sit in my parent’s basement to this day. Countless hours of my childhood were spent playing with the toys, watching the cartoon, and loving (mostly) the movies. That said, the TMNT are terrible ninjas!
Now I’m no expert on the ancient secretive art of Ninjitsu, but from what I’ve gathered from pop culture and vague, most likely misinterpreted history, the TMNT are really just swinging weapons with slightly higher proficiency than a geeky teenager who loves Van Damme movies. (No offense meant… that was me back in the day!)
So let’s examine the reasons why the TMNT suck at being ninjas.
To start, they aren’t really that good at being stealthy. On a small scale, yeah, they hide and sneak around pretty well, but they also like to ride around in the overly conspicuous Turtle Van. This van not only resembles a turtle, but actually says TURTLES on the front. They also, on occasion, use the Turtle Blimp, which looks just like the van, but even bigger, and moves around up where the entire city can see it. Not exactly stealthy…
They also don’t dress like ninjas. Rather than wearing drab clothing that hides not only their presence, but their identities, they wear almost nothing at all, exposing the fact that they’re giant mutant turtles who openly carry deadly weapons. Further more, they wear brightly colored bandannas to denote who is who. Their sense of anonymity is gone, and anyone who happens to see them could easily identify “that big, green, sword-wielding, turtle mutant with the blue bandanna”!
Still on the subject of their lack of stealthiness is the fact that they have pizzas delivered to the same manhole cover presumably on a daily, if not hourly basis. Even if they switch up the location at least one of the delivery boys is eventually going to report back to their boss that they’ve delivered 35 pizzas to the manhole cover on 6th avenue in the passed week. At some point a lot of calls to the police from confused pizza shop owners are going to raise some questions, and probably an eventual search through the sewers.
On the subject of pizza, one would think that “highly trained” ninjas probably adopt a fairly strict lifestyle, if not an exacting culinary regimen. A ninja has to stay in shape. Now, who’s to say what exactly the dietary requirements are for mutant turtles to say “in shape”, but I hardly think a diet consisting of nothing but pizza is going to keep their bodies fit. All that cheese and grease and carbs is going to bog down anyone!
So now that I’ve covered their near complete lack of stealthiness, and questionable eating habits, what about the stuff that matters most? The ability of ninjas to deal swift exacting death. Sadly, the green heroes come up short here as well.
First lets examine their weapon skills. When it comes down to it, Napoleon Dynamite has better bo-staff skills than these supposed master ninjas. Splinter is their Sensi, but he hardly appears credible as a weapons teacher. Splinter was marginally trained in martial arts, so how efficiently could he pass on his “skills” to his pupils? While this is a difficult point to back up, I believe the Turtles’ lack of weapons cross-training evidences my point well enough.
When do you ever see one turtle use a different weapon than his “specialty”? Never! Ninjas should be well versed in all manner of death dealing. A good ninja should be able to kill with anything he can, be it sai, katana, bo, nunchucks, broken bottle, fork, or pizza cutter. There’s no evidence that any of the turtles can even use a different weapon, or use anything other than an implement specifically designed for fighting. That seems woefully inefficient, and I blame Master Splinter for this. A good Sensei would have taught his pupils the value of improvisation, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
And in the killing department, they don’t seem to be able to get that right either. There isn’t a single foe the Turtles encounter that is actually stronger than them, certainly not more intelligent. But most of their battles end with the Turtles just outsmarting their opponents. This in of itself isn’t so bad, but the fact that these foes keep coming back over and over again is. At some point shouldn’t the turtles decide intimidation and outwitting them isn’t doing the job?
Shredder has no qualms about killing innocent people, and yet the Turtles let him get away with it. While ninjas weren’t necessarily “good guys” they do have a code. The Turtles’ code is to stop the bad guys and protect the innocent, so at some point they really should just kill Shredder, and even more so, Krang. Instead, the Turtles just let them get away to wreck havoc at some later date. That’s horrible. They’re supposedly trained to kill, and yet when there is purely justified, righteous killing to be done, they fail 100% of the time.
So that’s my argument as to why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are horrible ninjas. They will always hold a special place in my heart, but they are just terrible at what they do. As one of our followers recently said on Twitter in regards to our recent poll of which cartoon super-group wins: “Panthro alone could kick all the turtles’ asses!”