Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Common Sense Media says

Violence overshadows positive messages in CGI remake.





What parents need to know

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

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.


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."


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

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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

This review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byJEDI micah September 30, 2012


Out of all the computer animated Nick shows, this one is the best! It's a great way to bring these pizza-loving reptilian ninjas back! The animation is decent and impressive! I like Michelangelo because he's the funniest! And parents, I know that Common Sense wants your kids to be safe with their choice of entertainment, but don't listen to them on this one! They are just being a bunch of idiots again, like when they gave T.U.F.F. Puppy 2 stars and Robot and Monster 4 stars! They do not know a good show when they see one! So if your kids know that violence in real life has consequences, then this is an ok show to watch! I think this show will be one of Nick's greatest, next to SpongeBob, Fairly OddParents, and T.U.F.F. Puppy! LONG LIVE THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
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!!!!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old July 19, 2014

One of the best!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the only good shows left on Nick. It has a good balance of humor and action. I wouldn't recommend this to small children (4 or less) though, as it could frighten them with the fight scenes. But it's overall a great show. It's definitely my favorite! And to those parents complaining because Mikey says Booyakasha instead of Cowabunga, then you need to get a life. Nick made this for the 2012 kids, not for the 1987 parents who miss their show. If you miss the original show, then stop complaining and watch re-runs of the old show. Kids love this so you should stop complaining. I recommend this to anyone who's looking for a good show with humor, action, and amazing characters. And it's okay for girls to like this show too. I'm a girl and I LOVE this show. Anyone who's bullying a girl because they love this show, then you need to get a life. I'm pretty sure if you would just give TMNT a chance, you would be in love with it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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