Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, heroes in a half shell, have died at 38

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are no more. Following the deaths of Leonardo, Raphel, and Donatello under mysterious circumstances at the hands of the successor of their arch-enemy the Shredder, the remaining brother Michelangelo has died avenging their deaths.

The deaths of Leo, Raph, and Donny, as they were affectionately known, were revealed in TMNT: The Last Ronin #1, with subsequent issues showing the circumstances of their defeat at the hands of the Foot Clan during an invasion of their sewer home.

Michaelangelo or Mikey, the youngest of the four, who swore vengeance for his family – had his quest come to an end in April 27’s TMNT: The Last Ronin #5, which concluded with his death, but also with the promise of a new generation of ninja turtles to come. 

The story of the Last Ronin goes all the way back to their ’80s heyday when creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird envisioned an ending for their breakout heroes – and Eastman and Last Ronin co-writer Tom Waltz have also considered what might come in a sequel or spin-off to the story.

With Michelangelo’s quest for vengeance successfully concluded, with his death he joined his brothers, his sensei and adoptive father Master Splinter, and his late comrade Casey Jones in an afterlife reminiscent of the 1980s’ New York City of the group’s heyday. 

TMNT: The Last Ronin #5

TMNT: The Last Ronin #5 (Image credit: IDW Publishing)

TMNT: The Last Ronin #5 (opens in new tab) is available now.

With due respect to Gamera, Tuck, and Bowser, here’s a look back at arguably the most iconic turtles in genre history.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(Image credit: IDW Publishing)

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Leonardo, known affectionately as ‘Leo’ by his brothers, was the eldest of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Recognizable in most incarnations by his blue bandana and twin katana swords, Leonardo was the most dedicated ninja among the TMNT.

And like his namesake Leonardo da Vinci, the affable, brave Leonardo was a true ‘Renaissance Turtle’ – skilled in all the arts of ninjitsu, both in terms of his stealth and combat skill and in his spiritual practice in the teachings of Master Splinter, with whom he shared a special connection.

Though he was too humble to say so himself, Leonardo was considered the leader and moral center of the Turtles, their de facto guide when out of the watchful eye of Master Splinter. Dedicated to justice for the citizens of New York and vengeance against Shredder and the Foot Clan, Leonardo embodied the best of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(Image credit: IDW Publishing)

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Second eldest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Raphael may be best remembered for the chip he carried on his shoulder. But it’s the weight he also carried on his shoulders that most defined the beloved ‘Raph.’

Raphael struggled to be as skilled in combat as Michaelangelo, as intuitive as Donatello, and as charismatic as Leonardo. But wearing red and brandishing a pair of sais, Raphael fought through every challenge placed in his path and became the core of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – a champion for his brothers.

Raphael was the most streetwise of the TMNT, and cultivated a special understanding of New York City, befriending and often fighting alongside the vigilante Casey Jones – a true Turtle of the people, who channeled his anger into defending those who needed it most.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(Image credit: IDW Publishing)

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Donatello was perhaps the most inquisitive and inventive of his brothers. Second youngest, the bookish, brilliant Donatello may have lacked some of his brothers’ ninja aptitude, but he more than made up for it with his natural gift for invention, which allowed him to often supplement his ninja prowess with gadgets and weaponry that he shared with the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Clad in purple and wielding a bo staff alongside his array of gadgets, ‘Donnie’ was somewhat shy compared to his brothers, often lost in his own world of technology and science. But he complimented their abilities with his engineering, outfitting the Turtles’ iconic battle van, and helping overcome many of the Foot Clan’s most dastardly weapons and schemes.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(Image credit: IDW Publishing)

The youngest of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Michelangelo’s youthful exuberance was always the hallmark of his place among his brothers. Always up for a laugh just as much as a fight with the Foot Clan, Michelangelo’s freewheeling personality set him apart from his more serious siblings even as his sense of humor often brought them together.

Appropriate for his fun personality, Michelangelo wore orange, and carried a pair of nunchucka – and if you were a kid in the ’80s or ’90s, you probably carried at least one homemade pair inspired by Mikey.

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