Whether through comic books, cartoons, live-action films, video games, or merchandising, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a force to be reckoned with in pop culture for more than 30 years. If you’ve never done a deep dive into these totally radical, pizza-loving crime fighters, here is everything you need to know about the Ninja Turtles to hold your own in conversation.
Creator Kevin Eastman got the idea for the Ninja Turtles after seeing four box turtles beating the shit out of a human toddler: While sitting in a park in 1983, Eastman saw four turtles head-butting the absolute living fuck out of a human toddler and got a huge kick out of it. Figuring that other people would also probably enjoy seeing turtles committing acts of violence against humans, he immediately started working on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book that would soon launch an empire.
The show caused a huge popularity boost for pizza, which before then had mostly been used as a cheap way to polish brass: When the Ninja Turtles were first introduced in the 1980s, the idea of pizza as a food product was still largely a novelty, as most people used it for household purposes like polishing brass and buffing floors. Yet once the Turtles exploded onto the scene, people went pizza-crazy, and now it is one of the most widely beloved foods in the world.
All of the turtles are each other’s boyfriends, but they don’t know that: Despite being highly intelligent animals, the Ninja Turtles are totally oblivious to the fact that they’re all in a committed romantic relationship with one another, and they are constantly confused as to why they’re always kissing each other on the lips.
Shredder’s ultimate goal is to secure full custody of the Ninja Turtles to provide structure in their lives and keep them away from weapons and pizza: While the franchise’s main villain may appear menacing at first, watch the show enough and you’ll realize that Shredder only ever ambushes the Turtles because he wants to capture them and relocate them to a stable environment that’s removed from the chaos and violence that constantly plagues their everyday lives.
Donatello is just an athlete in a turtle costume, and he believes that the other turtles are, too: Should he ever realize that his partners in crime-fighting are, in fact, mutated humanoid turtles and not just guys in costume like him, he would undoubtedly be horrified. However, creators of the various TMNT comic books and TV shows have taken great care to ensure that Donatello is never clued in to this disturbing truth.