Ninja Turtle References
Ninja Turtle References

Cheers [1982 - 1993]

After Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) makes a joke about the Ninja Turtles, Cliff (John Ratzenberger) mentions how not too many people know they started out as a comic book.

Muppet Babies [1984 - 1991]

Kermit the Frog (Frank Welker), Fozzie Bear (Greg Berg), Animal (Dave Coulier), Rowlf (Katie Leigh) and Bean Bunny (Dave Coulier) do a musical number dressed as the Ninja Turtles.

Full House [1987 - 1995]

Joey (Dave Coulier) wears Ninja Turtle pajamas at a slumber party he attends with Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin).

D.J. (Candace Cameron) babysits a young boy who pretends to be a Ninja Turtle and calls her Krang.

In a similar incident Rebecca (Lori Louglin) invites her little nephew over who annoys Michelle (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) by pretending to be Raphael and calling her Shredder.

When Rebecca learns she's pregnant, she decides to surprise Jesse (John Stamos) with the news via a game of charades. During the game, Michelle guesses Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

While Joey is under investigation for purchasing a stolen vehicle, the Tanner family shows the detective all of his toys and cartoon memorabilia, including a pair of Ninja Turtle slippers.

Danny (Bob Saget) goes on a date at an 80's nostalgia restaurant and in the background there's a Ninja Turtle poster.

Married With Children [1987 - 1997]

Kelly (Christina Applegate) teases Bud (David Faustino) for having a Donatello pillow.

The Bundys check out a coffin shop and see a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle number, which the salesman mentions Michael Jackson picked out for Macaulay Culkin.

The Simpsons [1989 - PRESENT]

While Homer (Dan Castellaneta) is being lectured by a children's birthday party conglomerate, they cut to a shot of college grads dressed in cheesy Ninja Turtle costumes popping out of a cake.

Similar to a Futurama episode title (see entry below), this show had an episode titled "Teenage Mutant Milk-Caused Hurdles"!

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures (animated series) [1990 - 1991]

Upon meeting Leonardo Da Vinci, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) assume he's Leonardo of the Ninja Turtles and ask where some of the other Turtles are.

Tiny Toon Adventures [1990 - 1992]

The Ninja Turtles make some amusing appearances throughout the course of the series, and at one point are parodied as Immature Radioactive Samurai Slugs.

Back to the Future (animated series) [1991 - 1993]

When Jules Brown (Josh Keaton) invents a money tree, he claims "I've found myself more popular than those juvenile martial artist mutations of the half-shell.".

Dinosaurs [1991 - 1994]

The Ninja Turtles are parodied as cavemen.

Home Improvement [1991 - 1999]

Al (Richard Karn) mentions that his pet turtle likes to watch the Ninja Turtles.

The Plucky Duck Show [1992]

While attempting to infiltrate Warner Bros. Studios, Plucky (Joe Alaskey) and Hampton (Don Messick) go into the sewers where the Ninja Turtles are seen running across the screen. Plucky immediately says to the audience "Who saw that one coming?"

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers [1993 - 1995]

Squat and Baboo create a turtle monster named Shellshock and send him to fight the Power Rangers. At one point Rita enlarges Shellshock, who says "Lets show those teenage mutants what a full grown turtle can do!"

Animaniacs [1993 - 1998]

In the opening to an episode about the artist Michelangelo, the Ninja Turtles make a brief cameo.

Teen Angel [1997 - 1998]

Steve (Corbin Allred) says to a forlorn Marty (Mike Damus) "I haven't seen you this upset since you found out the Ninja Turtles aren't real."

King of the Hill [1997 - 2010]

Bobby (Pamela Adlon) looks at an old picture of himself dressed as Raphael for Halloween and comments on how dorky he looked back then.

South Park [1997 - PRESENT]

When Stan (Trey Parker), Kyle (Matt Stone) and a couple school friends travel to Imaginationland, several famous fictional characters can be seen, including a generic Ninja Turtle with a black bandana.

Futurama [1999 - 2013]

While none of the characters in the show itself have ever made any direct references to the Ninja Turtles, the ongoing plot about mutants living in exile within the subterranean ruins of the original New York City and a river of toxic waste capable of mutating humans could be perceived as an homage.

There was an episode titled "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles".

Family Guy [1999 - PRESENT]

Mayor West (Adam West) and Meg (Mila Kunis) watch an episode of Ninja Turtles in a hotel room. Only the theme song is heard.

Around the time actor Seth Green got the role of Leonardo on the 2012 CGI series (replacing Jason Biggs) his character Chris Griffen paid homage to that connection in a cutaway where Chris is in the hospital. The doctor tells him to stop lifting manhole covers, and Chris rebutts by explaining that he's friends with the Ninja Turtles, when a sewer worker shows up to bring him flowers, who Chris assumes is Donatello (Personally, I think it's ashame they couldn't have actually used Rob Paulsen for this scene, though he doesn't usually get involved with adult oriented animated programming)

Malcolm in the Middle [2000 - 2006]

Francis (Christopher Masterson) discovers Grandma Ida (Cloris Leachman) had been hoarding years worth of Christmas presents from him and his family. Among them is a Pizza Throwing Donatello action figure.

The Fairly OddParents [2001 - PRESENT]

The Ninja Turtles are parodied as Adolescent Genetically Altered Karate Cows.
NOTE: This episode occurred five years before Viacom acquired the rights to the TMNT.

Two and a Half Men [2003 - 2015]

Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) claims to be the writer of the original Ninja Turtles cartoon theme song.
NOTE: This show's producer Chuck Lorre is known for having written the theme song back in 1987.

American Dad! [2005 - PRESENT]

Roger (Seth MacFarlene) tells Steve Smith (Scott Grimes) that he imagines what it'd be like if the Ninja Turtles went to college.

How I Met Your Mother [2005 - 2014]

While at an art show with Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Marshall (Jason Segal) makes a joke about the Ninja Turtles' namesakes, who were all renaissance artists. Later that night a young artist by the name Strickland Stevens (Chris Smith) hears Marshall mention the Ninja Turtles and the two of them talk about the original Eastman and Laird comics.

Supernatural [2005 - PRESENT]

Upon hearing of the archangel known as Raphael (Demore Barnes) Dean Wichester (Jensen Ackles) jokes that his colleague Castiel (Misha Collins) was murdered by a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Angel".

In a similar instance, Dean meets a prophet by the name Donatello (Keith Szarabajka) who he assumed was named after the Ninja Turtle, but the old man corrects him, saying that he was named after the Renaissance sculptor.

TRIVIA: A year prior to landing the role on Supernatural, Ackles had a recurring role throughout season 4 of Smallville, in which he portrayed a mysterious young man who courted Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk); ironically, in the earlier seasons of that series Lana actually had a horse by the name Donatello, but they never referenced TMNT. It's possible that since the series was based on Superman they didn't want to get too carried away with referencing other well known comic book properties not connected to DC in any way, shape or form.

30 Rock [2006 - 2013]

Liz (Tina Fey) orders the writers not to submit anymore sketches about Krang.

Reaper [2007 - 2009]

Sam (Bret Harrison) visits his friend Mimi (The OC star Melinda Clarke) who's moving away, when her daughter Cady (Jessica Stroup) warns her not to sell her Ninja Turtle toys. Mimi jokes that Donatello was Cady's first boyfriend.

The Big Bang Theory [2007 - 2019]

During a conversation about Spider-Man, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) starts singing the theme song to the original Ninja Turtles cartoon. Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) quickly join in.
NOTE: This show's producer Chuck Lorre is known for having written the theme song back in 1987.

2 Broke Girls [2011 - 2017]

While being lead through a subway tunnel with a freaked out Caroline (Beth Behrs), Max (Kat Dennings) says "All we really need to worry about are the Ninja Turtles!"

Sophie (America Pie star Jennifer Coolidge) mentions how she was once engaged to a guy who lived in the sewers and claimed to be friends with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Max responds with "If he can introduce me to Donatello, get him back!"

While hanging out at a photo art gallery, Han's (Matthew Moy) attire embarrasses Earl (SNL alumni Garrett Morris) who comments "Nobody went with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle as a wingman."

While in a long distance relationship with L.A. lawyer Randy (Ed Quinn), Max asks Oleg (Jonathan Kite) to help her send naughty texts to Randy, but a while later she worries they might've been a little too racy. Oleg comments "You asked Michelangelo to paint, and then you criticize the painting." and Max promptly asks why he's bringing up the Ninja Turtles.

Teen Titans Go! [2013 - PRESENT]

While hanging out with the Titans, Más y Menos (Freddy Rodreiguez) take several boxes of pizza to the Ninja Turtles' lair.

In an episode about pizza, Robin (Scott Menville) explains how he asked the Ninja Turtles for help when he originally formed the Titans. Later on the Titans learn that the TMNT have taken all the pizza in the world, and a wacky battle ensues between both teams.
NOTE: Throughout the episode, the Titans refer to the TMNT as "Cool Turtle Dudes" either as a way to avoid copyright infringement or to simply poke fun at it. My money's on the latter since voice actor Greg Cipes* involvement in both franchises was most likely what gave them the incentive to do this story in the first place.
*See the Nickelodeon cast list at the Cartoon Season Showcase

Clever Pop Culture References by the TMNT

"Didn't I see you in The Jungle Book?"
- Raphael during their first ever fight with Bebop and Rocksteady
from the Fred Wolf series season 1 (1987) episode
Enter The Shredder

Both Baxter's permanent cross-mutation with a fly and April's temporary cross-mutation with an ally cat were a direct parody of the classic creature feature titled The Fly, though April's feline form could also be considered a nod to the famous Broadway play.
from the Fred Wolf series season 2 (1988) episodes
Enter the Fly + Catwoman From Channel 6

While comparing a monster movie to a love story, Michaelangelo gets asked by Raphael about his relationship with Kala of the Neutrinos. Mikey insists that he's merely just good friends with her, which Raphael quips "Sure you were, like Romeo and Juliet!"
HEAD-CANON: I like to imagine Donatello mentioning offscreen that the famous play by William Shakespeare ends with the two star-crossed lovers killing themselves over each other, but of course due to the kid-friendly nature of the program, such a subject would be a hug no-no!
from the Fred Wolf series season 2 (1988) episode
Teenagers From Dimension X... not to be confused with the
season 1 (1987) episode Hot Rodding Teenagers From Dimension X

While zooming through the sewers on their cheapskates... Donatello asks Michaelangelo why he isn't shouting his trademark catchphrase. Mikey admits to being bored with "Cowabunga!!!" and attempts to steal Fred Flintstone's classic line "Yabba Dabba Doo!!!", though Don vetoes it immediately.
from the Fred Wolf series season 3 (1989) episode Beneath These Streets

"Who're you gonna call, gator busters?"
- Atilla of the Punk Frogs paraphrasing the catchphrase from Ghostbusters
from the Fred Wolf series season 3 (1989) episode
Leatherhead: Terror of the Swamp

"Another super hero already holds the patent on telephone booths!"
- Raphael referring to Superman
from the Fred Wolf series season 3 (1989) episode
Turtles, Turtles, Everywhere

In the live action New Line Cinema film
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Original Movie (1990)
April O' Neil mentions then popular film star Harrison Ford
Michelangelo does impressions of Sylvester Stallone's famous Rocky Balboa character and James Cagney's character from the 1932 film Taxi!
Donatello later comments on April and Casey's love-hate relationship being reminiscent to characters from the TV series Moonlighting (1986 - 1989)
Donatello and Casey Jones argue over who Mary Anne from the TV series Gilligan's Island (1964 - 1967) would end up with.

While trying to watch a samurai film parodying Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs... the Turtles are challenged to a battle against Shredder at a dump where a giant whirlwind appears, immediately sucking April's Channel 6 rival Vernon Fenwick into it. Donatello explains how Shredder is using a tornado shaped dimensional wormhole to drag them to Dimension X, to which Raphael replies with "Are you sure he's not trying to drag us to Oz?!" That same moment a pair of ruby slippers go passing by.
from the Fred Wolf series season 4 (1990) episode
The Dimension X Story

"Well, don't have a cow, man!"
"Uh, wrong show."
- Michaelangelo stealing Bart Simpson's catchphrase and getting chastised for it by Raphael
from the Fred Wolf series season 4 (1990) episode
Super Hero for a Day

Irma dates a fellow by the name Howie Hardy for a couple of episodes. The four-eyed fellow looks, sounds and acts an awful lot like actor Woody Allen trying to be Buddy Holly, singing all sorts of dumb songs about the Ninja Turtles... one of which happens to be a parody of "A Teenager In Love" by Dion and the Belmonts.
from the Fred Wolf series season 4 (1990) episodes
Name that Toon + Menace Maestro, Please

Two alien turtles from am intergalactic wrestling program that the Ninja Turtles tune into are somewhat reminiscent of a Saturday Night Live skit from the same era, which featured Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey as a pair of wannabe body builders who try to emulate Anrold Schwartzenegger and proceed to trash talk slimmer guys by calling them "girly men"
from the Fred Wolf series season 4 (1990) episode
Planet of the Turtles...
not to be confused with Planet of the Turtleoids

"I feel like Leonardo and the Beanstalk!"
- Leonardo referring to himself as the title character in
Jack and the Beanstalk
from the Fred Wolf series season 4 (1990) episode
Unidentified Flying Leonardo

In the New Line Cinema film
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
Michelangelo mimics Humphrey Bogart's character from Casablanca (1942)
The completed anti-mutagen gets poured into a Bart Simpson glass.

"I just cleaned up the Sarah Conner mess in L.A."
- Renet referring to the main character in Terminator
from Mirage Vol. 1 #46 (April, 1992)

"Help the kid with the flying DeLorean... that sounds like fun!"
- Renet referring to Marty McFly from Back to the Future
from Mirage Vol. 1 #47 (May, 1992)

In the New Line Cinema film
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 (1993)
Michaelangelo does an impression of Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii, which Splinter later mimics at the end of the movie to cheer the forlorn turtle up!
Upon arriving in Feudal Japan, Donatello references the TV series Quantum Leap (1989 - 1993)
Raphael and Donatello refer to Niles and 2 of Walker's other henchmen as The 3 Stooges
Upon taking notice of April's bare legs, Leonardo and Donatello briefly mimic Wayne and Garth from the popular Saturday Night Live skit-turned-comedic-film Wayne's World
Lord Norinaga gets referred to as boxing promoter Don King by Donatello
Walker gets referred to as The Phantom of the Opera by Raphael and called Tinkerbell (Peter Pan's fairy sidekick) by Leonardo
Donatello also makes random out-of-place references to M.C. Hammer and The Addams Family, though ya gotta admit the "Help, I'm a turtle and I can't get up!" line referencing Life Alert's old catchphrase was pretty damn funny!!!

"Yes, Commissioner Gordon?"
- Donatello answering the phone using a Batman quote, which refers to one of the Caped Crusader's most trusted allies
from Archie's TMNT Adventures #47 (August, 1993)

In Saban's short-lived live action series
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (1997)
A marquee for the 1997 film Batman & Robin can be seen in an opening shot of the city
Also in the episode "Mutant Reflections" Raphael and Michelangelo debate who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman.

"Next time lets leave the wall crawling to the dude in the blue and red tights!"
"You read way too many comic books!"
- Michelangelo referring to Spider-Man and getting chastised for it by Leonardo
from the 4Kids series season 1 (2003) episode
A Better Mousetrap
TRIVIA: Actor Sam Riegel who played Donatello in this series went on to provide the voice of Andrew Garfield's version of Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man in the video game spin off of Sony's 2012 film reboot titled The Amazing Spider-Man; at one point in the game, Spidey follows a rat creature into the sewers and quips "Hey, where are ya going... off to eat pizza with your adopted turtle sons? Can I come?"

"Uh guys, the shark is here... and he's humming the theme from Jaws!!!"
- Michelangelo referring to the aforementioned 1975 classic horror film
from the 4Kids series season 1 (2003) episode

In the 4Kids series Turtles in Space storyarc Part 2 - The Trouble with Triceratons has a scene where the Turtles and Honeycutt infiltrate a pub on the planet D'Hoonib looking for space smugglers to get them off-planet. Honeycutt briefly points out a pair that greatly resemble Han Solo and Chewbacca of the Star Wars film series.

In the 4Kids series Turtles in Space storyarc Part 3 - The Big House the Turtles' get sent to a Triceraton prison, during which their trademark weapons are confiscated, so during a break out they make due with cleaning supplies from a janitor's closet. Raphael gets a pair of spoons to use in place of his sai and in the moment of a fight, he screams out "SPOON!!!" like The Tick; Ironically this is the only animated iteration of Ninja Turtles so far that has nothing to do with voice actors Townsend Coleman or Rob Paulsen who played The Tick and his sidekick Arthur, while still providing the voices of Michaelangelo and Raphael back in the early 90s as they didn't even get to reprise those roles in Turtles Forever.

In the 4Kids series Turtles in Space storyarc Part 5 - Triceraton Wars Mikey emulates both Captain Kirk from Star Trek and Han Solo from Star Wars during the Turtles' getaway in Prime Leader Zanramon's star cruiser.

"Captain America, Eat your heart out!!!"
- Michelangelo referencing yet another iconic Marvel comics super hero as he hurls a trash can lid at several Foot Soldiers chasing him down an alleyway!!!
from the 4Kids series season 2 (2004) episode
City at War Part 2
TRIVIA: Shortly after his brief stint as Johnny "The Human Torch" Storm in 20th Century Fox's Fantastic 4, actor Chris Evans was cast as the voice of Casey Jones in the 2007 CGI film TMNT; just a few years later he landed the ever iconic role of Captain Steve Rogers, aka Captain America in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe!!!

"It's like finding out your dad is Superman!!!"
- Michelangelo name dropping the Big Blue Boy Scout from DC Comics upon learning that Master Splinter is a Battle Nexus Champion
from the 4Kids series season 2 (2004) episode
The Big Brawl Part 1

In the 4Kids series 4th season episode Adventures in Turtle Sitting April 'O Neil and Casey Jones attempt to surprise each other by dressing in a way the other person would find pleasing... Casey decked out in a nice tuxedo with his hair in a pony tail, while April is dressed like a biker punk. This is obviously a reference to the final scene in the classic 1978 musical film Grease. Also, the Turtles' monster hunting gear can be considered a sly nod to Ghostbusters.

The plot of the TMNT going into cyber-space decked out in cybernaut armor during the Back to the Sewer season is a reference to Tron.

Nickelodeon's CGI cartoon that ran from 2012 to 2017 was chock full of references and meta humor, not only paying homage to different properties but previous and current versions of TMNT as well!!!

In the 2014 Michael Bay film reboot, Mikey refers to Raphael's gravely voice as an impression of Batman.
TRIVIA: Actor Alan Ritchson, who played Raphael in both movies, was Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman during the later years of the WB series Smallville!

Donatello and Michelangelo refer to their lair as their -
"Fortress of Solitude" (referencing Superman)
"Hogwarts" (referencing Harry Potter)
"Xavier Academy" (referencing X-Men)
During the flashback sequence of their upbringing we see the Ninja Turtles watching the music video "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani.
Mikey later admits he didn't understand the ending of Lost.

In the sequel Out of the Shadows, Michelangelo briefly joins in a Halloween parade where he runs into a guy dressed as a human sized version of the Bumblebee character from Transformers.

Return to the Main Page