Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV Poster Image
Violence overshadows positive messages in CGI remake.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 28 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational value

This series intends to entertain rather than to educate, though kids might learn a bit about martial arts.

Positive messages

Kids see the Turtles work through sibling rivalry, jealousy, and power struggles. For them, teamwork is a learned skill they're still trying to master, but there are glimmers of hope that they will achieve that state soon. They're heroes because of the training they've received from their father figure and teacher, and while they're often impulsive, they do try to heed his advice. That said, they always resort to violence to solve problems, even among themselves. Often the brothers mock one of their own who tends to be a little slow in grasping the details of plans.

Positive role models & representations

The Turtles fight in defense of freedom and justice, so their motivations are good. Unfortunately they often seem cocky and eager for a fight, which leaves the impression that they care more about showing off their skills than they do about waging war for a cause. Master Splinter tries hard to keep them focused on the right path, but the messages don't always sink in.

Violence & scariness

The Turtles are trained in martial arts-style fighting and wield traditional weapons like nunchaku and sai on their enemies, who often retaliate with more modern weapons like guns. There are also plenty of hand-to-hand exchanges, many culminating in the stabbings or dismemberment of the monsters and aliens the Turtles face. It's not bloody in the traditional sense, but the victims do short circuit or gush alien goo that looks like blood. Potentially scary moments involve monsters growling or grimacing or popping into sight quickly.

Sexy stuff

One of the Turtles harbors an innocent crush on a girl, but nothing comes of it.

Language

Name-calling like "idiot," "meathead," and "bonehead," plus "shut up." The Turtles also mouth off with each other and to their enemies with phrases you might not want your kids repeating: "Let's bust some heads," "I'll kick your butt," "Stick it in your shell," and "We're standing here with our thumbs in our noses."

Consumerism

The show is part of an extensive product line inspired by multiple TV shows, movies, and comic books.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a CGI remake of two previous animated series about crime-fighting turtle brothers. There's a lot of violence to the show, as the heroes wield ninja weapons like staffs, nunchaku, and sai against the villains' guns and lasers. None of the exchanges get bloody, but aliens and monsters ooze fluids like blood after they're stabbed or dismembered. Expect some surprises and scary moments that will frighten very young kids and the menacing presence of a villain lurking in the shadows waiting to attack the Turtles. Language is also a factor here, since the characters casually use phrases like "Shut up!" or "Stick it in your shell" and "Let's bust some heads" that you might not want your kids repeating. On the upside, the Turtles' imperfect relationship is similar to those of many sets of siblings, and there are some good messages about getting along, resolving differences, and respecting elders to be found in the story.

User Reviews

Adult Written bymarioroxmysox January 15, 2016

Viacom, you're ruining everything!

There are a lot of people who think that audiences, like me, are "nostalgia blind", but I'm not nostalgia blind... I don't like how executiv... Continue reading
Adult Written byFighter_07 May 4, 2015

This show is great and family friendly

This adaption of teenage mutant ninja turtles is great. The turtles, while flawed, are excellent role models for young viewers. There are positive messages of... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 9, 2012

Turtle Power!!!

REALLY COMMON SENSE!?!?!?!?! TWO STARS!?!?!?!?!?1 This is an awesome show that deserves atleast 4 stars!!!!! I love this show!!!!!!
Teen, 17 years old Written byTeenTv February 23, 2014

Amazing!

This show has been the best since the 80's and it's constantly getting better. It is great for kids because of its good role models and positive messa... Continue reading

What's the story?

Everybody's favorite reptilian crime fighters rise from the sewers in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, an updated adaptation of the story that originally debuted in the 1980s. The story centers on four anthropomorphic, mutated, man-sized turtles -- Donatello (or "Donnie," as he's known in this version) (voiced by Rob Paulsen), Rafael ("Raph") (Sean Astin), Michaelangelo ("Mikey") (Greg Cipes), and Leonardo ("Leo") (Jason Biggs) -- trained in martial arts by their teacher, Master Splinter (Hoon Lee). The bandanna-clad heroes emerge from the trenches as teenagers and fall into fighting monsters, aliens, and everything in between, unaware that their movements are being tracked by a sinister presence from Master Splinter's past.

Is it any good?

"Heroes in a half-shell" attempt a comeback in this CGI series that sticks closely to the original story and character relationships. The Turtle brothers are a lively bunch and have their share of disagreements even among themselves, but they save the harshest of their fighting for the creatures and criminals who threaten their city and the people in it. This has obvious merit in messages about standing up to bad guys (and, by association, bullies), but it also tells kids that fighting is the best way to solve just about any problem. Your kids might think it's awesome that these brothers settle their differences by matching nunchaku and sai skills in their living room, but replicating this action at home can have some pretty serious consequences.

Ultimately this is a case of knowing your kids' tolerance for what they see on TV. If they can watch the show with the realization that it's an entirely fantasized premise with behavior that has no place in the real world, then they might be OK tuning in. But if they tend to mimic what they see -- and hear -- on the screen, then you'll want to find a better option with more impressive role models of conflict resolution and sibling relationships.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about role models. In what ways does Master Splinter lead the Turtles by his own actions? Do they respond to his guidance? Whom do you consider a role model in your life?

  • Tweens: Is this series more or less violent than others you've seen? How does the show's animation style affect the impact of the fighting sequences? Do you think this kind of content can have negative effects on kids who watch? 

  • How does this series compare to previous ones or movies starring the same characters? Do you think any animation style is more or less favorable in the case of these characters? Why do these particular characters keep coming back?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love cartoons

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