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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Day

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, known informally as Ninja Turtles and abbreviated TMNT, is a media franchise that follows four anthropomorphic turtles—Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo—who were trained by their sensei, Master Splinter, to be ninja warriors. Living in the sewers of Manhattan, they battle criminals, megalomaniacs, and aliens.

Leonardo, named after Leonardo da Vinci, is the oldest of the four and a natural leader. He wears a blue mask and wields two katanas. He is courageous and decisive and has a strong sense of justice and honor. Raphael, named after Raphael Sanzio, is the bad boy of the group. He wears a red mask and his weapon is a pair of sai. He is aggressive and is an intense fighter. Donatello, named after Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, is a technologically-savvy inventor and uses his intellect to solve conflicts. He wears a purple mask and has a Bō staff. Michelangelo, named after Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, is free-spirited and easy-going, and often resorts to comic relief. He wears an orange mask and wields a pair of Nunchaku.

The Ninja Turtles gained their enhanced mutant strength after being mutated by a mutagen. As a result, they are not only much stronger than humans but can take on villains much larger than them. They also are exceptionally durable, being able to withstand feats that many others can't, such as explosions, superpowered punches, and having buildings fall on them. They work best when they work together as a team, and that's what they do when they take on their arch-enemy, a supervillain named Shredder, as well as villains like Krang-Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, and Karai. Other prominent characters in the franchise include human ally April O'Neil and vigilante Casey Jones.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Day was proclaimed by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley in 1993 in honor of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, the third live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, released nationally on March 19, 1993. Several years later, likely in the 2000s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Day began being embraced on a wider scale and unofficially observed nationally.

Bradley's proclamation acknowledged the world premiere of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III in Los Angeles on March 6, 1993, organized by New Line Cinema and Golden Harvest productions, and that proceeds from the screening went to Clinica Para Las Americas, The Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS Inc., the Westside Children's Center, and the Permanent Charities Committee's Children's Fund. It highlighted that Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo "inspire today's youth to fight for the principles of justice and personal integrity" and "impart values such as honesty, self esteem, respect and good citizenship to the children of America." It pointed out that New Line Cinema coordinates film screenings for underprivileged youth in Los Angeles and relies on actors and crews from Los Angeles. Finally, the proclamation acknowledged the nationwide release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on March 19.

The idea for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came about from a comical sketch developed by Kevin Eastman in an evening of brainstorming ideas with his friend Peter Laird. Using a loan from Eastman's uncle as well as tax return money, the friends self-published the single-issue comic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles under the name Mirage Studios in May 1984. The first published work to feature the Ninja Turtles, was limited to 3,000 copies. Their goal was to parody some of the most popular comics from the past few years: X-Men and The New Mutants, which had teenage mutants, Daredevil, which had ninja clans fighting for control of New York City, Ronin, and Cerebus the Aardvark, which had anthropomorphic animals. The original run of comic books lasted for 76 issues and covered two volumes. As the Ninja Turtles world kept expanding, the comics began being written by others besides Eastman and Laird. Other comic book series of Ninja Turtles followed, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures.

Pen-and-paper RPG games of the franchise were produced, beginning with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness in 1985. Dark Horse Miniatures made a set of Ninja Turtles lead figurines to go along with the games in 1986. The animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles debuted in 1987, as did action figures, along with vehicles, playsets, and accessories, made by Playmates Toys. The original animated series, which ran through 1996, along with the action figures, skyrocketed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into a pop cultural phenomenon. The action figures became one of the top toys for children and one of the most iconic action figures ever. The Ninja Turtles became ubiquitous on children's items, appearing on skateboards, lunch boxes, PEZ dispensers, breakfast cereal, and school supplies.

Since 1989, there has been a long list of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video games, mainly made by Konami. This started with the single-player NES game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That same year, the arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was also released. It soon was released for NES as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game.

The first Ninja Turtles film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was released in 1990. It follows the storyline of the original comics but adds in some of the more lighthearted aspects of the first cartoon. It was followed in 1991 by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze and in 1993 by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, the latter being the inspiration for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Day. A live-action television series, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, followed the first three movies, running from 1997 to 1998.

A second animated series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, ran from 2003 through 2009. It stayed truer to the original comics than the original animated series did, being darker and edgier. The series ended with the made-for-television movie Turtles Forever. Another animated series, also titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, ran from 2012 through 2017. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, an animated series that ran from 2018 through 2020, concluded with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie in 2022.

In 1990, a concert tour, "Coming Out of Their Shells," sponsored by Pizza Hut, featured live-action turtles in costumes in a similar manner as the films. The Ninja Turtles played in a band, and it included a plot line involving using the power of rock and roll to save April O'Neil, who had been kidnapped by Shredder. A pay-per-view special and studio album of the concert tour was released. There were other live appearances of the Ninja Turtles, such as at Walt Disney World, which lasted until 1996.

More movies followed the original three. The CGI-animated feature film TMNT was released in 2007. The live-action film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released in 2014, and its sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, came out two years later. In 2023, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem hit the big screen.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles helped inspire and fuel the self-publishing of comics, with an explosion of independent comics following their launch. The comics, action figures, animated series, movies, and video games have all remained in the cultural lexicon decades after their debut. For this, and for the qualities exemplified by the Ninja Turtles enumerated by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley—justice, personal integrity, honesty, self-esteem, respect, and good citizenship—the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are celebrated today with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Day.

How to Observe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Day

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