Name: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Founding Members: Splinter, Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo
First Appearance: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (May, 1984)
Created By: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird
Did You Know: The colored masks were introduced in the original animated series as a way of distinguishing which turtle was which.
A Little History
Years ago in Japan existed a clan of ninja known only as the Foot Clan. The Foot Clan was led by its leader, Hamato Yoshi. Splinter, the pet rat of Yoshi would spend his days mimicking the movements of Yoshi from his cage. This mimicry would form the basis of his knowledge of ninjitsu. While Yoshi was the leader, he could often be found fighting with another member of the clan, Oroku Nagi. Like many youth, the two fought over the love of a woman, Tang Shen.
Eventually, Nagi realized that she only had eyes for Yoshi and in a fury of rage, he arrived at her home and beat her. Luckily, Yoshi arrived home. Not so luckily, in his own moment of rage, he killed Nagi with his hands.
Disgraced, Yoshi left Japan for America and while in America, he founded a martial arts school. The Foot Clan, without a leader, continued the training of Nagi’s younger brother, Oroku Saki. It wouldn’t take long for Saki to prove his value to the group and eventually, he became a high ranking member. Saki was then charged with leading a branch of the Foot Clan in New York.
Now in New York, Saki rose the Foot Clan to prominence. The clan became well-known and respected in the criminal underworld. Yet, through all of this, Saki wanted nothing more than to avenge his deceased brother, Nagi.
One night, Yoshi arrived home to find his love laying dead on the floor and her killer standing over her. It was revealed to be Oroku Saki who promptly killed Yoshi. Now alone, Splinter left his cage and ran to the sewers where he was forced to fend for himself.
Fast forward just a little bit and a young boy had just bought 4 baby turtles from a local pet shop. While this was happening, a blind man was attempting to cross the street. Unbeknownst to him, a T.C.R.I. truck wasn’t paying attention and nearly ran him over. That is if a passing man didn’t jump in and pull him out of the way.
Unfortunately for the boy, the commotion caused the turtles and their bowl to crash to the ground and fall in the sewer. Due to the swerve of the truck, the back doors of the vehicle flew open and a canister of Green Glowing Goo flew out, hit the drain, and went down the exact same sewer. The goo immediately coated the turtles.
Luckily, a nearby Splinter gathered the turtles, cleaned them off and cared for them as his own. Over time, the goo caused the turtles to grow in both size and intelligence. During this time, Splinter instructed them in the ways of ninjitsu. He then named them after his favorite Renaissance artists.