Thursday, 30 June 2016

Quick Crappy Review: Mattel WWE Elite Fatal Fourway!*

We’re gonna do something a bit different today, I bought four WWE Elite figures in one day with some leftover birthday money (oh for a more grown-up name for that), all but one (Undertaker) was discounted and two of them are (fittingly for the characters) a little out of date (they’re from 4 waves ago) so we’re gonna say fuck it and review all four of them in one go, it’s an Elite in each corner, no disqualifications, quick crappy fatal four-way. So are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s get ready to rumble:

Our superstars are… from WWE Elite series 40: Ravishing Rick Rude and Irwin R Shyster, from WWE Elite series 41: Lita and from WWE Elite Wrestlemania 32: The Undertaker. WWE Elite are Mattel’s ‘mid-price’ range of WWE action figures that used to be their top of the line range until they introduced the Defining Moments range. All figures were released in roughly the last six months with Undertaker being the newest and Rude and IRS being the oldest.

First to the ring, because he doesn’t care about ‘ladies first’ when there’s tax evaders to prosecute is Irwin R Shyster, alias IRS. IRS was (and sometimes still is) played by Mike Rotunda, who also wrestled under his real name and is the father of Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt (yeah, IRS fathered those two), when Rotunda came back to the WWF in 1991 after a stint in the NWA promotion (company) he was outfitted with one of the reviled ‘day job gimmicks’ the WWF loved in the early-to-mid 1990s, where instead of a personality a wrestler was given a profession, in this case a tax man. It was pretty silly but IRS got to work with The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase as his tag partner and had a feud with Razor Ramon so some good came of it. I personally am not Rotunda’s biggest fan though I enjoy Money Inc. (his and DiBiasse’s tag team) but IRS has become kind of iconic in a way for being an example of crap WWF in the 1990s, not quite as much as Isaac Yankem (DDS) or Repo Man maybe but still a big 'oh god the New Generation sucked' argument, and so I wanted him for my ‘perfect roaster’ but mostly I wanted this figure because I love/loved his Hasbro WWF figure from the early 1990s, which stomped on people and looked really, really, REALLY fucking angry about it. Actually IRS was one of the Hasbro WWF figures I didn’t think was a real wrestler (others included Berzerker, The Mountie and Repo Man – oh yes, that’s an idea, make an Elite Mountie!) for an embarrassingly long time but simply assumed he had been dreamed up for the toyline so he holds an additional significance in my little world, also he looks damn cool, fighting in a shirt and tie, that’s pretty hardcore really – he’s kind of like the WWF version of Colonel Courage (and if you get that reference, you’re as sad as me and I like you).

His Elite figure is a pretty good fit for his character – he looks cool, he stands out, he’s memorable but he’s really nothing special. Though genuine gripes are few and far between – there’s a bit of a big gap at his wrist joints and his double jointed knees look terrible when bent because he’s wearing suit trousers and that always happens when double joints like this are used on baggy clothing but otherwise not much. His belt and braces are an extra overlay piece and can ride up and certainly would during play, making them look weird, but for display this is fine and they push down as easy and they come up and stay there after being given a sharp look and waggling your figure at them. His likeness is decent, my one looks like he’s staring up at the lights (which is fitting) but I think this may be intentional in case you want him looking over or using his glasses, and he has a suitably arrogant and obnoxious facial expression. Like all Elite figures he’s well jointed to where it becomes a detriment to the figure, western toy companies still having not quite figured out how to integrate joints as well as their Japanese counterparts but instead just flinging loads at the toy to give an impression of value – something that usually works and often works on me, fuck you all. He’s the first WWE Elite figure I’ve reviewed with these two-way hip joints replacing ball joints because… I dunno, are they cheaper? Harder to break? Whatever they’re not a good substitute for ball joints at the hips but they do allow for a good range and are excellent if you want your characters to do the splits (and they’re wrestlers, of course you want them to do that), they just don’t allow the figures to articulate the way humans do, buuuuut he’s also boasting what I think are rocker joints at his ankles (they may be a different kind of joint, I can’t quite tell because of the trouser legs and because I get joint names mixed up sometimes, it makes drug taking a messy business) that do actually allow his ankles to work pretty much like a human’s does, they’re very appreciated and work very well. IRS comes with two accessories, which is pretty fucking amazing for WWE Elite (actually he seems to have quite a few new pieces, I’d wager his upper torso is new, plus his head, tie piece, braces and belt piece and probably his glasses too) a briefcase – which I don’t doubt has been used a gazillion times by Mattel already, I’m sure it’s come with every Money in the Bank figure ever made (god I hate the term ‘Money in the Bank’ it’s such a douchebaggy term, did Triple H comes up with it?) but hey, IRS needs a briefcase and it’ll do, I see Mattel’s point. It’s kind of hard to make him look like he’s holding it ‘naturally’, I think the limitations of the wrist joints might be to blame. Also included is his glasses, they are shit, they don’t fit on his head properly, it was very hard to get them out of the packaging without breaking them and they look crap when he wears them. So again, he’s good but nothing special.

Second to the ring is the lovely Lita. I was so excited about Lita getting a figure – Lita, played by Amy Christine Dumas, was/is counter-culture, badass and actually a good wrestler, rarities for women in the 1990s in WWF, she came into the promotion (company) in 1999 (from ECW) and is mostly known for working with the Hardy Boyz, feuding with Trish Stratus and the on-screen and off-screen love triangle she had with Edge and Matt Hardy and best forgotten for that time she did a miscarriage story which WWF has never and will never do well. Lita is awesome and her band is way better than Chris Jericho’s. This hasn’t been the most informative paragraph but I don’t care.

This isn't the best picture for comparison purposes (it's from later on
in her career and she doesn't have her red hair any more) but I wanted a
picture where she looked happy rather than sultry and that's surprisingly
hard to find. 
Sadly this is a Mattel WWE Divas figure and… they’re not very good at them a lot of the time, their amazing Paige and Miss Elizabeth figures are lofty heights to which they rarely climb and a lot of this is down to their likenesses (and in this case having a HUGE left hand, the fuck?). I think a part of the problem here is that her facial expression just isn’t saucy enough, Lita liked pulling a saucy expression and this toy is just…well…delighted, don’t they scan the faces of the wrestlers? I think I heard that, if that’s the case it might just be more what she looks like now (and it does look quite a lot like how she looked at her Hall of Fame induction), scanned or not it’s also one of those ‘from some angles’ likeness, side-on or at an angle it’s a decent attempt but straight on it’s not so hot, however it’s good enough (if it wasn’t I wouldn’t have bought have). Despite having been released after IRS she’s a step backwards, or perhaps to the side, in articulation below the waist: she has ball joints at the hips and no double joint at the knee, the upside of that though is that it doesn’t look crap when she kneels, the downside is that she can’t do the splits and if I was asked who I thought was more capable of doing such a thing: Mike Rotunda or Lita – I wouldn’t pick the bloke who was IRS. Articulation also shows up in my other complaints – her bicep and thigh joins ruin her design the moment you use them, breaking up her tattoo and the trousers seam, I bring it up only because thigh cuts are pointless when you have ball joints at the hips, oh and you could have achieved the same joint by using a different elbow articulation, but that would have meant more tooling costs and I think her trousers might have been expensive. Her accessories are clothes, because she’s a woman, ok I’m being facetious and I actually like these accessories, I’ve said from the stat of these posts that I want more swappable pieces for the figures and Lita has two so I’m pleased. Out of the package she’s just wearing her… I dunno what I’d call that, her black bikini top top thing, but you can give her her white vest top or her neon yellow see-thru top. The yellow top is fabric so I won’t be using it because I avoid fabric on action figures whenever possible but it attaches via Velcro and goes on ok enough, her white top - which I was delighted to see because It’s what I always think of her wearing when I think of her – is soft plastic and I had to look up online how to get her to wear it, she doesn’t come with instructions because no way are Mattel going to pay for that. HER HEAD DOES NOT COME OFF, I gingerly tried this to see if it did, mine made a sickening crack but happily didn’t break, you have to put the top loop up under the back of her hair, pull it over her head and then tuck it under the front of her hair, her hair’s pretty pliable (though still enough to hamper articulation pretty severely on the neck joint) and the top is pretty stretchy but I’d suggest it’s not something you want to do very often if you  want a white shirt that’s not stretched to buggery. On it looks pretty good (the bottom straps do up with a stud the same as the old Playmates Ninja Turtles belts, only a lot better than those belts), maybe a little too big but then you probably couldn’t replicate how tight Lita’s damn tops were without sculpting painting them onto the figure. All in all she’s pretty good but probably the weakest of the four figures here.

Third to make his entrance in the square circle, because with him the lady always comes first, is the man, the legend, the package, the moustache that is Ravishing Rick Rude. Played by, oh my god his name really IS Rick Rude, or rather Richard Rood, played by Richard Rood the character Rick Rude was basically just a very sexy man who would disrobe to thrill the ladies and insult the men, he was part of Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan’s heel stable (villainous group) in WWF during his glory days there (’87-’90) where he feuded with my man Jake The Snake. Rood fucked off to WCW for a while where he was part of the Dangerous Alliance before coming back for a very brief stint in WWF in 1997 where he was… Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard after the Montreal Screwjob, bit of a comedown from feuding with Jake Roberts, but he did co-found D-Generation-X (with Micahels, Triple H and Chyna)  - there’s a bit of trivia for ya - before fucking off back to WCW (ending up being the only person to be on both WCW Monday Nitro and WWF Monday Night Raw on the same night due to the latter being taped before he left, and the former being live after he signed with them – more trivia, yay trivia), Sadly Rood is the only member of our fatal four-way to no longer be with us, having died of heart failure on April 20, 1999, way too soon when you consider that most of his Hulkamania-era contemporaries were still wrestling in WCW at that time.   

I love Rick Rude, this figure is great and if I’m right about the scanning thing, absolute proof that Mattel should just sculpt their own likenesses, I’m not sure about the expression – he looks a little bit creeped which is odd because he’s the creep dammit – but it sure as shit looks just like him in all his White-Lionel-Richie-If-He-Was-A-70’s-Porn-Star glory (I thought mine had a paint issue, but it turned out to be Rich Tea Biscuit crumbs, I am a foul and disgusting person), other than his head he’s entirely built from reused parts I think, which is a shame in that it doesn’t allow his trademark physique to be recreated perfectly but I think I might be expecting too much there, they chose the right parts for the Sexiest Man Alive, all my Monster High girls are going to be swarming after this toy. His tights are excellent, not my first choice in terms of pattern but undoubtedly a great choice to represent the character: bright pink and with a woman’s lips on his arse, they’re not the best drawn but then neither were the real man’s tights. Articulation is the only downside again – the arms don’t have the range to put his hands behind his head and his crotch artic (he’s using ball joints there too, though he has double jointed knees like his series-mate IRS) is blocked by the buttocks so he just can’t thrust as much as I’d like, I respect this is not a complaint many will have. His accessory is his robe, because what is a Rick Rude figure if it can’t strip, it’s nice enough – looks a little cheap really, reminds me of the clothes you get with knock-off Barbie dolls you can exchange your tickets for in amusement arcades – but my fabric aversion and my general desire to have the ravishing one at his derobed best prevent me from using it for my shelf, still damn right he should have come with it and thank you Mattel for realising this.

His hat looks fucking huuuge in this
picture, I assure you it doesn't look that
big in-hand
 *lights go out* *bell gongs* *dry ice and smoke rises* finally welcome to the ring the Phenom, the Dead Man, the Undertaker!  I’m a bit of a fan. The Undertaker, played by Mike Calaway, debuted in WWF in 1991 and hasn’t left since, making him the longest running employee of the company, another cartoony gimmick in an era of them, the Undertaker was a supposedly a, well, an undertaker who may or may not be undead and is impervious to harm (up to a point) but somehow this didn’t fail like all the others, mostly because that’s fucking cool and Calaway has more presence than Christmas. ‘Taker has been both hero and villain, ranging from a hell’s angel to the lord of darkness, and has numerous feuds including those with Mankind, his on-screen brother Kane and Brock Lesnar and has been in some of the most well regarded WWF matches of all time alongside the likes of Shawn Michaels, Edge and the aforementioned Mankind and Lesnar, he’s also a big deal backstage, acting as a kind of unofficially official locker room sheriff. The less said about his ‘American Badass’ phase and that time he wrestled a giant man dressed like a caveman and an Al Qaida terrorist (not at the same time) the better.

This is Undertaker as he appeared at Wrestlemania 31 – despite appearing in a wave called WWE Elite Wrestlemania 32 but, well, boys toys often make no sense, the WWE rarely makes sense, put ‘em together and that sort of shit’s gonna happen. Sadly this means that he has short hair but that’s pretty much my only real complaint about the figure itself and that’s not really a complaint but a personal preference. Ok it’s not my only complaint but those complaints are complaints I make over and over again and I’m sure you’re all sick of them, his double jointed knees make him look awkward when the knees are bent because he’s wearing baggy trousers and he does not in any way need thigh swivels, but at least here it’s not so bad as it doesn’t disrupt the design of his trousers much at all. Other than that he’s pretty damn awesome, he comes out the box wearing his accessories – a leather coat that’s fabric and his trademark hat which is plastic, both have their issues but can navigated – like with Defining Moments Sting the coat is a little unwieldy but it not as bad as that figure’s and personally I don’t think it’s any more unwieldy than Undertaker’s actual jacket looks to be, obviously I’ve never worn his coat because he keeps spotting me before I can get to his wardrobe but y’know, from what I’ve seen on telly it doesn’t look too different, it’s also a lot more poseable than Sting’s is but it still could have done with some bendable wire in there for better control and some awesome posing. His hat is a little loose (and I keep putting it on the wrong way because I’m stupid) which can make putting it down low for maximum moodiness a little more difficult that it should be but it’s hardly worth mentioning, it’s also a much better fit here than on the last Undertaker figure where it made his head look tiny. Speaking of head (what does everyone want?!?...), his head sculpt is fantastic (and actually fits his hat this time) but…I have noticed, at certain angles, if you squint, that it does look a bit like the Big Bossman and as the Udnertaker once hung the Bossman on pay-per-view….well….let’s move on shall we? Under the coat they’ve bothered to give him all of his tattoos – and he has a lot – which could go a long way to explaining why this figure was a higher price than the regular Elite figures – though I think Wrestlemania sub-series figures always are – but I don’t mind paying extra for this level of detail. As I’m apparently keeping tabs on this, ‘Taker also uses the standard ball joints at the hips.

So who’s going to win our Fatal Four-Way? Well after IRS is stretchered out when Lita kicks him in the balls – his fancy leg joints allowing for her to do this perfectly – the Deadman just gets the pin on Rick Rude via the finisher of being able to replicate more iconic poses, specifically the pose I wanted him in on my shelf, when you have two figures at satisfying as these you have to get down to reasons like that to separate the two. All four though are decent, all have great and suitable accessories, though I can’t imagine releasing an Undertaker figure without the urn packed in, even if he had stopped using it by the timeframe the figure is supposed to represent, it just seems unnatural, but then I am talking about a wrestling zombie so…which is a point, for the new WWE Zombies line (I’m buying Paige, I don’t care how pathetic the concept is, I must have undead Paige) they’ve produced a Zombie Undertaker, does that mean he’s a double zombie? Anyway with that said, all I have to do is warn you to beware the Hower Power, cheers all.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Quick Crappy Review: Masters of the Universe Classic Darius*

Mattycollector, the online collector’s wing of Mattel and the people behind Masters of the Universe Classics, is a fucking mess at the moment;  they can’t seem to keep employees for longer than a few months and just about everything is being delayed. The usually defeatist fan base is even more negative about the future of Classics and ThunderCats Classics (which hasn’t even started yet) and I’ll be honest all the doom and gloom and how much sense it makes, the longer time between figures, missing my chance to get Anti-He-Man and my general lack of enthusiasm for what turned out to be the first five months of figures (nothing wrong with them, they’re just not characters/versions of characters I’m particularly mad about, I haven’t actually kept a single Club Grayskull figure so far and won’t be keeping Skeletor either I don’t think) have really eaten away at my ability to give a shit. I tried to get it up for a quick crappy review of Vultak but it didn’t happen. Thankfully that’s come to an end, there’s only one figure in the latter half of the year I’m planning to unload (Filmation Beast Man) and in fact we’re getting a whole bunch of characters that are highly anticipated here in AFBland, and this upswing in enthusiasm begins with Darius.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Quick Crappy Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Dimension X Fugitoid & Out of the Shadows Kraang*

Shred-der I have a new toy out, why hasn’t that idiot dwitefry reviewed it yet?

Yeah still haven’t seen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows yet and here I am doing a quick crappy review of another toy from it. Both of today’s figures were birthday gifts and it was both delightful and saddening when you consider that I received the same characters on the same day, only about 25 years previous but due to their long tenure with the franchise I have a lot of affection for Fugitoid and Krang so managed to fight down the existential questions raised by that fact.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Seven Examples of Things I Waste My Money On (Yes, Again): Bootsale Report 4!*

Unbelievable it stopped fucking raining long enough for Sunday morning to be hot and sunny – y’know, like how June’s supposed to be – this meant that for once the weather was on the side of us boot sailors and although far from the giant size it can reach the bootsale was big, varied and very dusty and bloody hot, what it wasn’t was very busy though – perfect conditions except that nearly everyone selling decided to stay at home and or I dunno, do stuff with their fathers, it was father’s day after all – but my father lives miles away and I wasn’t seeing him so instead I spent three hours trawling through other people’s old shit now covered in an extra layer of dust and other people’s hand sweat, lovely!

The end result was actually pretty good (and cheap too, I spent less around £20) but sadly very lacking in action figures, which is the main reason I go to these places, well that and being exceptionally nosey. The good news is that this, another bloody Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On article, will be quite varied, the bad news is this is another bloody Examples of Crap I Waste My Money article, so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin (again):

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Eight Examples of Crap I Waste Other People's Money On: Birthday 2016 Edition!*

I had another birthday, I tend to have approximately one a year , this one was a ‘big’ birthday, I was 30, I’m not dealing with this and frankly every time I have to acknowledge it it makes me die a little more inside but to fuckery with missing out on a chance for easy content so I’m gonna keep mentioning it, and keep wanting to jump in front of large moving vehicles, so long as I can milk it for blog posts. In this case a birthday means presents and in my case presents means a mix of things for children, things for people who never stopped being children and an array of things that would seem completely inexplicable to anyone who doesn’t know me on a personal level, and you know what that means right? That means another bloody Examples of Crap I Waste My Money on post. You’re so lucky.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Top 30 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stories Numbers 15 to 1*

On the 13th of June I turned 30, I’m not dealing with this so instead I decided to both ignore and celebrate me lasting so long by writing a whole bunch of top 30 countdown lists.

< Part 1

15. Turtles in Space
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 1 Episodes 25-26, Season 2 Episodes 1- 5 (4Kids Entertainment, 2003)
Written by Greg Johnson, Michael Ryan, Eric Luke & Marty Isenberg
Wha’appen? The Turtles' search for their sensei Splinter leads them to the TCRI building. Their attack on it doesn’t go quite to plan, mostly because TCRI is a front for aliens called Utroms, they do have Splinter though. During the battle the TMNT accidentally set off a transmat, a teleporter they’re standing on, and end up teleported across the universe and wind up befriend Professor Honeycutt alias the Fuigtoid – who’s wanted by the humanoid Federation the dinosaur-men of the Triceraton Republic because he knows how to build a Teleportal, and both sides want it for its military advantage. 
Why? Given the sheer amount of adaptations in the 4Kids cartoon the law of averages was on the side of there being an episode/set of episodes on this list that adapted a story that wasn’t also on this list: that wound up being Turtles in Space. Why? Because it makes the comic book version completely redundant, it’s actually a very faithful adaptation but it also expands on the story greatly, spreading it over 7 episodes to give us more time, more time to see D’Hoonib, more time to develop characters like Mohzar, Blanque, Zanramon and even the Fugitoid, more time to get across the feeling of being trapped in the Triceraton games, more time with Triceraton culture and the addition of Traximus, he might just be Russel Crowe as a dinosaur but he’s awesome none the less – and does all of this without sacrificing pacing, the arc never feels too long to me, despite the fact that it’s over 2 hours all together. In summary this does everything the original comic does, and everything the original comic should have done and would have done.

14. Night of the Rogues
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 7, Episode 6 (Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, 1993)
Written by David Wise
Wha’appen? While Krang goes about the plot of the episode, Shredder finally has enough of Bebop and Rocksteady and decides to form a new group of underlings – recruiting The Rat King, Scumbug, Slash, Anthrax, Tempestra and Leatherhead and rebuilds Chrome Dome. With the Turtles Forced to retreat the Rogues Gallery use their heads and draw them out by attacking locations in New York, with no choice the TMNT respond, are captured and Splinter is forced to recruit his own ‘replacement team’ – Zach the Fifth Turtle, Casey Jones, April and Irma.
Why? Because everyone comes across really well, Shredder finally gives up using two morons and recruits proven quantities (well, in-universe, this is Scumbug and Anthrax’s first appearances in the show); Bebop & Rocksteady prove their superior qualities – brute strength and loyalty; the Rogues are shown as incredibly formidable making the Turtles fleeing actually seem the right decision – in fact only Chrome Dome is actually defeated in combat (by Master Splinter), the rest split when they realise they’re not getting paid – the Turtles go into a trap knowing it’s a trap but go anyway because it’s the right thing to do; Casey Jones attacks an 8-foot robot with a hockey stick; Master Splinter figures out how to defeat said robot despite being a three foot rat armed only with a walking stick and ninjitsu and backed up by three humans with no skill and a madman with sports equipment, none of which are very useful against 8-foot robots; fuck me even Zach’s useful – twice; April’s a useful source of information and, well Irma’s the least useful but she’s not annoying. Also all of the jokes succeed, Raphael is particularly enjoyable this episode which means a lot coming from me as I hate this version of Raphael.  The downsides are two: Townsend Coleman is voicing Shredder and he’s pretty awful at times (which is a shame because otherwise the voice acting’s great, even Zach’s less annoying than usual) and the human/mutant working together moral mean we don’t get to see local mutants like Muckman, Mutagen Man or Mondo Gekco in Splinter’s team9.   

13. Showdown
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 1, Episodes 25-26 (Nickelodeon Animation Studio, 2013)
Written by Joshua Sternin & J.R. Ventimilia
Wha’appen? The Kraang are ready for the invasion that is known as the Invasion of Earth, bringing the Technodrome forth from Dimension X to mutate the planet, but the Turtles are confident, after all they need April (basically as a stabilising agent) and they don’t have her, so they go to take down TCRI and succeed, but they’re too late and the Technodrome has arrived (and in this canon, can fly). To make matters worse almost as soon as they’re gone The Shredder, via a mind controlled Kirby O’Neil, has kidnapped April and successfully lured Splinter to his base of operations, and now Splinter is here, he has given Miss O’Neil over to his partners who are the partners that are known as The Kraang. So while Splinter and Shredder duel for the first time since the fire that irreparably changed both their lives the TMNT need to infiltrate a flying battle station, destroy said flying battle station, save April and fend off the giant Kraang Prime. Easy, right? 
Why? A good finale shouldn’t just tie up plot points from the season (and tease some for the next), it should be one big line of “Fuck Yeah!” moments, be they awesome acts of bravery or touching quiet moments of reflection or everything in between, they should make you say – in some context or another – fuck yeah, and preferably give at least one of these moments to each of the major characters, and most of all it should feel like a satisfying resolution. Showdown does all of this. While everyone does get a great moment (Raphael gets multiple, my favourite being his method of ‘distracting’ some Kraang, though kicking Kraang Prime in the face is also pretty awesome) the episode really belongs to Leonardo and Splinter, which is fine because this show has the best versions of both characters in the franchise’s history. Leo shows he’s willing to give his life to save his team – twice – and Splinter shows us how awesome he is and indeed how human he is, he has a fucking panic attack when he realises he’s going to have to face the Shredder (the episode also has April confront Splinter about why he never goes topside to help his sons, something that really needs to be brought up more than it is). To make things better this a finale solely based around the most iconic of Turtles villains – The Shredder and Krang (or Kraang Prime) – indulging in their most iconic plots – a duel with Splinter and getting the Technodrome out of somewhere to wreak havoc (with the additional bonus of the Technodrome ending up stuck at the bottom of somewhere), with a spattering of fan favourites like General Tragg, Metalhead, The Mousers and Karai, so I suppose the story is best if viewed through the eyes of someone who’s been with the franchise for a long time and knows a lot about it but it serves as a fantastic finale for the first season as well, and introduces the new kids to more iconography that we old bastards have known and loved for years - oh and Raph dances at the end, it is brilliant.      

12. Insane in the Membrane
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 4, Episode 19 (4Kids Entertainment, 2006)10
Written by Matthew Drdek
Wha’ppen? Against Agent Bishop’s advice, Baxter Stockman – now reduced to a brain a robot body – clones himself new body and via ‘cerebral transfer’ is flesh once more. But that flesh is dissolving and as his body degrades Stockman’s mind is going with it, hallucinating about his mother and finally going off the deep end, now resembling a zombie-cum-Frankenstein’s-monster he decides to make April O’Neil pay because his broken mind has deduced that she is responsible for his life going down the toilet.
Why? The sorta-infamous banned episode that Fox Kids wouldn’t let air because it was ‘too graphic’, and yeah it really is pretty graphic, and terrifying, but it’s also fantastic. 4Kids Baxter Stockman is easily the best Baxter Stockman, Laird’s embargo on using anyone who wasn’t original or from the Mirage comics lead to Baxter being used far more than he ever had been before and thus far more developed than he had been before, and while he was still a looser (with a macabre running gag of Shredder lopping off more and more of his body parts) he wasn’t a joke or a dork but a serious scientist and often a legitimate threat, this episode gives us a rather tragic look into one  of the franchises favourite butt-monkeys, at what it’s like to grow up to be a failure – to remember a time when you were going to be a success and remember the people who thought you great and destined for great things, in this case his mum (I can relate), it’s kinda weirdly powerful – and then there’s a long horror movie style chase and battle with a man who’s rotting and completely bonkers, always a good thing. A tragic and tense episode that proves that Stockman is a character worth respecting even if he never got any respect in-universe.

11. Get Shredder / Wrath of the Rat King
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 8, Episodes 1-2 (Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, 1994)
Written by Tony Love
Wha’ppen? Scrambling around after the loss of the Technodrome Krang, Shredder, Bebop & Rocksteady their plan to utilize the derelict Hall of Science at the abandoned World’s Fair is interrupted by the Turtles and Krang’s old weapons designer Berserko (who’s using the same building!) believing the TMNT are holding Krang (it’s Berserko) Shredder holds the Channel 6 building to ransom. With the Channel 6 building in rubble Burne Thompson starts a propaganda war against the Ninja Turtles causing them to doubt themselves, Shredder recruits The Rat King and Krang has The Rock Soldiers send him the Shockwave, a weapon he can’t use without a body but will still grant him incredible power. The turtles find faith in themselves by the end and put The Rat King in prison and the Shockwave in pieces but the Channel 6 building is gone, the Turtles are wanted criminals, Burne and Vernon have turned on them and April has been fired, and Shredder & Co are still out there.      
Why? The Red Skies have arrived, and that means a massive upswing in quality when it comes to writing, animation, logic and the threat posed by the villains. Shredder becomes the monster he should be, blowing up the Channel 6 building even though the Turtles bring Krang to him, just because they were late and the Rat King has all the presence of his Mirage counterpart (and is actually a far larger threat than that Rat King). This two-parter really feels like the last hurrah for the show, it isn’t – Shredder and Krang will be responsible for this season’s finale and they’ll be two more seasons (and Shredder & Krang will be return in those too) – but the inclusion of the Rat King and the Channel Six crew (who’ll both be gone by the time the finale of this season starts) and the larger roles of Bebop, Rocksteady and April (April isn’t even IN the finale this season I think) make it feel more like a finale than the actual finale and not just that, but a finale that’s also the story featuring these characters that we always deserved.

10. Return to New York
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issues 19-21, Tales of the TMNT issue 70 (Mirage Studios, 1989 /2010)
Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Eric Talbot, Jim Lawson
Wha’appen? Frustrated and having defeated Leonardo in a physical fight over his plan, Raphael returns to New York to hunt The Foot and kill The Shredder, who seemingly returned from the dead and drove them out of the city. His rather fruitless quest takes an unforeseen but positive turn when he encounters Zog, an insane and hallucinating Triceraton driven mad by living in Earth’s atmosphere, and he knows where a Foot Clan base is. Pretending to his Commander Zoraph Rapahel is able to order him around, and when his brothers catch up with him they use him to locate and then launch a full scale attack on the Foot HQ, and once they’ve put down the Shredder Mutants and reached the man himself, heads will roll11
Why? The story was already good enough to make my top 10 before they released Tales of the TMNT 70 to remove the only real complaint I had with Return to New York by showing us Raphael taking command of Zog. As to why it’s so good? Well it’s a Mirage story written by Eastman and Laird that has Triceratons, the Foot and The Shredder all in one violent (and actually pretty emotional) blockbuster; it has one of the best Leonardo/Raphael fights in the franchise, in fact until the TMNT CGI film came out I’d say it WAS the best and it has one of the best Turtle/Shredder fights in the franchise, so why is it number 10? Because it’s filled with great stuff with great art and great writing buuut there are stories I personally like more.

09. Krang War
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 5 issues 17-20 (IDW Publishing 2013)
Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Ben Bates
Wha’appen? With Rock Soldiers marching on their capital city, the Neutrino royal family dispatch their best soldiers – Dask, Zak and Kala – to retrieve the Fugitoid from Earth, just as April, Casey and four hidden TMNT are grilling him (in his human disguise as ‘Chet’) about unrelated matters. Of course the Turtles end up teleported to Dimension X and Planet Neutrino and of course they end up involved in an assault on Krang to rescue the kidnapped King and Queen, especially as Michaelangelo is now infatuated with Princess Tribble. So as Raphael and Zak lead a frontal assault and Doantello and Fugitoid work to come up with a contingency plan, Leonardo, Donatello, Tribble, Dask and Kala break into the old palace for an inevitable confrontation with General Krang.
Why? Because it is everything I wanted from a serious re-imagining of these concepts, in fact it is just about everything I would have done if given the chance (though I would have kept the Neutrino’s hepcat dialect I think) with the Neutrinos as resistance fighters and Krang as the massive physical threat (and a Utrom) actually, if you read Krang’s dialect in Pat Fraley’s voice you find they did a good job of keeping his character pretty much intact even while he’s being stone cold badass (though he’s less funny, but then everything is less funny in IDW). This leads to an excellent TMNT vs Krang & The Rock Soldiers battle with a fantastic confrontation with Krang himself (though sadly only with Leo and Mikey) which we just don’t see enough of. It’s not 110% perfect (Kala really doesn’t have a personality) but it’s so bloody tailored to me it’s in my top 10.  

08. Dinosaur Seen in Sewers! / Annihilation: Earth
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 3, Episodes 24-26 (Nickelodeon Animation Studio, 2015)
Written by Todd Casey and Brandon Auman
Wha’appen? When Slash and Dr Falco are beaten by a thought mythical ‘dino man’ Raphael is able to calm him by pretending to be his commander 'Zoraph' and seeing a chance for to have an attack dinosaur, takes it. Figuring out his insane ramblings – caused by being unable to breath properly in Earth’s atmosphere – Raphael deduces the Kraang are back and his dino-man is Zog from the Triceraton Empire, an enemy of the Kraang. Using Zog the TMNT are able to track the Kraang to their base in the Statue of Liberty and help Zog recover his gear and his mind – a terrible mistake, Zog is determined to send a message to his race to destroy Earth now it’s infested with Kraang and is willing to sacrifice his life to do it. The Turtles’ confidence that they’ve stopped an invasion of super strong dino men is ruined by the arrival of a Utom named Bishop, who tells them that the Triceratons are on their way with a black hole generator at the same time as Kraang Prime and Iago Kraang Sub-Prime resurrect the Technodrome. As Captain Mozar’s forces prepare to launch their machine the Turtles, Casey & April, Splinter The Mighty Mutanimals, Muckman, Mondo Gecko, The Shredder, The Foot, Fishface & Rahzer, Tiger Claw and Bebop & Rocksteady all stand against the invading dinosaurs but all still seems lost, and in his final moments Shredder decides to finally take his revenge, regardless of whether Splinter is making the last-minute dive to prevent the Earth from being destroyed or not. Oh and Fugitoid – and he’s voiced by The Tenth Doctor.
Why? Fun fact, my favourite TMNT villains are the Triceratons and from the moment I finished watching Annihilation: Earth Part 2 I knew that this arc had replaced Turtles in Space (4Kids version) as my favourite Triceraton story even though that’s only half because of the Triceratons. Dinosaur Seen in Sewer is all about the Triceraton element (well that and all the good jokes about the finale of Crognard), it adapts a favourite part of one of my favourite Turtles stories obviously but it also gives us something we never got to clearly see before, Zog (as an identified character) in full control of his senses and, well, he’s a villain because the Triceratons are villains, I actually made the actual squee noise when that happened. Annihilation: Earth (which is parts 2 & 3 of the story, I dunno why they named part 1 different) though has its appeal in the fact that even after multiple viewings I still can’t believe they’d do it, what is ‘it’? Pretty much everything – I can’t believe they make the Triceratons such a threat (sure they were threat before but they never destroyed our planet before), I can’t believe they killed off Kraang Prime and Kraang Sub-Prime, I can’t believe they’d allow Shredder to remain in character and do what we knew Shredder would always do if he had the chance – kill Splinter and everyone else be damned, I can’t believe they destroy the Earth and I can’t believe they got one of my favourite actors to voice Fugitoid! Pile on top of that all kinds of great ‘finale’ moments like a huge team-up, awesome entrances and the sacrifice of the Turtle Blimp (my favourite vehicle), the debut of this version of Bishop, and Casey Jones (who wasn’t in Showdown) and this has to be in the top 10. My complaints are twofold: they didn’t unleash Mutagen Man despite him being stored in their lair and they made Muckman look like a chump – I’ll buy Mondo Gecko getting his arse kicked (even if don’t like it) because he was set up as a pathetic fighter in Meet Mondo Gecko but Muckman was pretty formidable in The Noxious Avenger, it’s a shame is all, because I really like Muckman and I should think, no demand, that everyone who had his toy as a kid feels the same way.             

07. Fifteen Years Later…
Turtle Soup Volume 2 issue 4 (Mirage Studios, 1992)
A.C. Farley, Richmond Lewis
Wha’appen? On their way to battle The Foot the TMNT momentarily run into a city worker Raphael thinks he recognises, little do they know that this is Chet, the boy who bought them and lost them down the sewer and have, after 15 years of guilt and nightmares they’ve just given him peace
Why? This is four pages long but it makes me want to cry, but in a good way; Mirage was the only universe where the Turtles got to meet their original owner, albeit ignorant to the fact they’ve just run into their previous ‘dad’ and at the location where Splinter found them no less. It turns out Chet’s been having nightmares about the Turtles, seemingly sharing a basic psychic link (a result of the Mutagen maybe? Did he get a drop or two on him?) which is a bit of a convenience but it does stop him seeming unrealistically obsessed with four turtles he lost the day he bought them and seeing Chet ‘reunited’ with THE tank and then his turtles is just so wonderful. The story basically succeeds via what it doesn’t say and do as much as it does, letting you figure out what’s going on and becoming heart-warming but slightly sad at the same time, the TMNT never knew who they met, but Chet did.

06. Tale of the Yokai
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 3, Episode 20 (Nickelodeon Animation Studio, 2015)
Written by Brandn Auman
Wha’appen? After helping Renet stop Savante Romero in medieval England the TMNT are caught in a time storm and find themselves 15 years before their present, in Japan, in the days leading up to the fire that cost Homato Yoshi (Splinter) his wife and daughter and transformed Oroku Saki into The Shredder. 
Why? We’ve seen stories set before the death of Tang Sheng before (4Kids did one, for instance) but none as good as this and none who fleshed out the Pre-Shredder Saki, the Pre-Splinter Yoshi and pre-bled to death Tang Sheng so well as this. We get a Homato Yoshi who isn’t perfect and pure, we get a Shredder that’s almost sympathetic and a Tang Sheng who’s actually a character and we get the Turtles interacting with all of them – I’m not sure we’ve ever seen the TMNT interact with Tang Sheng before this. If I’ve mentioned Splinter’s late wife a lot so far this it's just that she’s one of the major reasons I like this episode so much, Sheng is SO important to a lot of TMNT backstories but she’s never really much more than a prop for Saki and Yoshi to feud over and for Splinter to avenge but here she’s an actual person with flaws and inner conflict and a personality and everything and she’s really attractive, watching this makes me understand why both men would fight over her, she’s great. The Turtles pretty much run through the standard time travel plot points – change, can’t change, try and keep things unchanged, end up keeping things the same – but this is all new to them and the shock and emotion they display feels very genuine and just seeing them interact with these people who they’ve heard about so much but never actually met (in any incarnation? They’ve interacted with de-mutated Splinter before but have they ever met them in the past?), these three people have defined the course of their lives since they mutated after all.

05. Everyone Versus Bebop & Rocksteady
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 5 issues 39-40 (IDW Publishing, 2014)
Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow Tom Waltz, Mateus Santolouco
Wha’appen? With Donatello avoiding his brothers due to sub-plots, Splinter, Leonardo, Michaelangelo and Raphael meet up with Old Hob and his fledgling Mighty Mutanimals (Slash, Mondo Gecko, Pigeon Pete and Herman the Hermit Crab) because of sub-plots. All goes to plan until Pete arrives with his two potential recruits – Bebop and Rocksteady. Despite the reveal, Old Hob at least tries to recruit them until he finds out they’re half human, deals with this by shooting them and thus the battle begins.
Why? Because it’s a two-issue battle with Bebop & Rocksteady and not just any Bebop & Rocksteady but IDW’s Bebop & Rocksteady, easily the best versions of the characters. The huge and completely awesome battle that follows, that also draws in Nobody (Angel in this universe) and Alopex, has everyone who isn’t a mutant pig or rhino unleashing everything in their arsenal while said pig and rhino crack jokes and don’t even break a sweat, in fact the only time the two aren’t downright jovial is when Rocksteady’s concerned about contracting rabies from Alopex because he hates needles and what we’re left with is both the best Bebop & Rocksteady story and the best advert for the two characters – want a reason why people like these two so much that isn’t based solely on nostalgia? Read this two-parter; they are put over perfectly, they’re very funny, daft as arseholes and damn near unstoppable, wonderfully it’s Splinter and Mondo Gecko that deal the most damage to them during the fight, the two smallest and physically weakest characters, by electrocuting them with power lines, but even plugging them into a city doesn’t stop them, Herman has to drop a building on the bastards to keep them down long enough for the characters to escape, hell the final way they beat these two (many arcs later) was by having them take each other down. This is pure fun and pure awesome, the only downside is Santolouco because I hate the way he draws the Turtles’ heads, they look like squashed Baby All-Gone or something.

04. Return of the Shredder
Leonardo issue 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue 10-11 (Mirage Studios, 1986)
Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Mike Dooney (with Steve Bissette and Ryan Brown)
Wha’appen? Christmas Eve, as the Turtles, April and Splinter prepare the tree and turkey, Leonardo is ambushed by the Foot while out exercising and beaten half to death by them and a returned Shredder, a man who supposed to be dead. Thrown through the skylight of April O’Neil’s store Second Time Around Leonardo heralds the return of the Turtles most recognisable enemy as the ambush continues throughout the flat and the junk shop below, luckily the Turtles and friends have a Deux Ex Machina, or should I say a Deux Ex Goongala – Casey Jones is here to save the day?
Why? Eastman and Laird did a pretty good job aping their inspiration/object of parody Frank Miller’s skill for fight scenes right from the start but they perfected it with the first two parts of this arc, as such there’s not a great deal of dialogue going on in this story, especially the first part (there is some, and nearly all of it fine and dandy) but it’s all the better for it, why would ninjas be bantering when they’re trying to kill each other? Instead we start the story with a perfectly laid out and ‘timed’ battle with Leonardo coming across as perhaps the most competent he has ever looked and when you figure that he’s easily the most competent ninja on the team and is always shown to be so that’s some accolade, we then get the big fun fight, perhaps the fight that most people think of when they think ‘Ninja Turtles’ – puns, banter but good action – as the three remaining Turtles and Casey Jones battle through Second Time Around, my favourite being ‘Mr Foot meet Mr Fist’, so we get two kinds of fight and they’re both great, superbly ‘choreographed' and brilliantly (and moodily) illustrated by Eastman, Laird and their friend Zip-a-Tone. To wrap things up we get a lovely focus issue on April O’Neil that doesn’t involve her being kidnapped, instead she just deals with what’s happened and narrates the fall-out as the Turtles recover in Northampton12. This top 10 is kind of shaping up to being a list of ‘The best X story’ from the franchise – we’ve had the best Krang story, the best Bebop & Rocksteady story, the best Triceraton story and then in this case we have the best Leonardo story, the best Foot story and the best April story.

03. Terracide
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures Volume 2 issue 55-57 (Archie Comics, 1994)
Stephen Murphy (as Dean Clarrain), Chris Allan (with John' D'Agostino, Eric Talbot & Brian Thomas)
Wha’appen? The Mighty Mutanimals are dead – Mondo Gecko, Man-Ray, Leatherhead, Jagwar, Dreadmon, Wingnut and Screwloose have been gunned down by Null’s Gang of Four13, the Future Turtles’ Raphael and Donatello have arrived too late and Null has changed the past, now he intends to go one further, killing the present TMNT, Splinter and Ninjara and then destroying time, why? Because he’s Satan and that’s what Satan likes to do. Allied with Maligna and her insect aliens and Null having turned Candy Fine (Mondo Gecko’s girlfriend) into his new concubine it’s Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello14, the two Future Turtles, Splinter, Ninjara and Slash (the last Mutanimal standing) versus four robots with dead bodies grafted to them, an invading alien race and the devil himself.
Why? Holy shit, Archie TMNT’s darkest story and its biggest triumph, let’s just restate the set up shall we – 8 anthropomorphic animals versus four heavily armed robots, an alien race and THE DEVIL – the stakes are high, I believe anyone can die and unlike a modern crossover event I believe they just might be major characters – again Leatherhead is dead, the whole Mutanimals are dead – why would they worry about killing Slash, Ninjara, Maligna or even one of the TMNT themselves? The only person we know isn’t going to die (permanently) is Null, the only character we want brutally murdered. It’s rare that killing characters actually works to say ‘shit just got real’ instead of saying ‘we want a clear-out’ ‘no-one of consequence will die’ or ‘you don’t really think this means anything do you?’ – The Mutant Massacre, Terracide and Earth-3’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths are the first three that come to mind (and those three were all done for ‘clear-out’ reasons!), which means that Terracide is keeping pretty good company  if nothing else.  
Moving past the deaths the story has two great villains behind it, both having their last hurrah and though both end a little anticlimactically (Null escapes though again he’s the devil, or some kind of personification of evil or greed or all of the Captain Planet villains combined or something). That said the villains are beyond a credible threat, they have killed Mondo Gecko, Leatherhead and Wingnut & Screwloose as an opening salvo, if Null says he can destroy time just because he wants to, I believe he can do it and there’s no doubt about how evil he is after he SHOWS A YOUNG WOMAN HER FRIENDS AND LOVER BURNING IN HELL (they’re not really in hell) just to knock her out and then turns her into a sex slave, and Maligna has an army of bug men – and watching the heroes slaughter their way through them is as shocking as it is awesome – she may not be evil personified but she’s well backed up. The tension in the story is high, there are brutal and pretty intense fight scenes, just read the damn thing , you might want to read the last part of Megadeth (issue 54) first but the story and art on Megadeth is piss poor so maybe not15.

02. I, Monster
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue 4 (Mirage Studios, 1988)
Jim Lawson, Ryan Brown
Wha’appen? While recuperating in Northampton the Turtles and Casey investigate a supposedly haunted factory, but they’re being hunted too, by a ‘monster’ in the form of The Rat King, who ties up Michaelangelo and tries to feed him to his rats, and that’s just the beginning.
Why? This issue is all about atmosphere, and by god it’s tense and by god it’s creepy and by god the Rat King is insane, if you don’t think a comic character can be scary imagine actually being around the Rat King of this story, then imagine being tied up and unable to move, it’d be like being kidnapped by the most unnerving drunk homeless person you’ve ever bumped into and convinced yourself didn’t creep you out because you’re not that sort of person and the uncanny valley doesn’t affect the would-be politically correct, who also smells like swamp. Again when I write ‘Ninja Turtles versus rats’ you may not think that’s too unnerving, now imagine being attacked by rats and you don’t have a gun or even a fire extinguisher or hose just sticks and swords and your bare hands and feet *shudders*. It is sad that The Rat King doesn’t get to physically engage with the Turtles (and is seemingly dispatched with one throwing star) but that somehow adds to the ghostly quality to him which the ambiguous ending just makes better/worse, the mysterious and haunting nature of this story being a major part of its appeal. Oh and this is the best Rat King story.

01. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (New Line Cinema, 1990)
Directed by Steve Baron, Screenplay by Todd W. Langen & Bobby Herbeck
Wha’appen? A crime wave is sweeping New York City and April O’Neil is covering it and getting up police chief Stern’s nose by doing so, it seems this crime wave may be perpetrated by… ninjas? Stern isn’t the only person April’s pissing off, when the Foot Clan confront her, she is saved by the TMNT, as the crime wave gets worse, as April’s boss’ son becomes involved with the Foot (who are recruiting youths), as Raphael meets Casey Jones, as Splinter is taken by the Foot Clan, April becomes more and more involved in the world of mutant ninja turtles, leading to her junk shop being burned down and having to flee the city after Raphael is badly beaten in an ambush and they’re helped escape by Casey.

Why? Simply put it’s the perfect mix of TMNT – it has the atmosphere and serious tone of the comic books, as well as the comic book characterisations of Casey Jones, Raphael and The Shredder mixed with the elements of the first cartoon series (no Bebop and Rocksteady sadly but they probably would have hurt the film more than helped it) including Michelangelo’s characterisation, it adapts TMNT #1 & Raphael #1 so well it made putting them on this list redundant, it introduces one of The Shredder’s best lieutenants in the franchise with Tatsu16 and it’s real; all real, no CGI, just Jim Henson’s workshop doing what they do best. It includes everything you need in a Turtles story – a Raph/Leo argument (a fight would have been better perhaps), huge battles with the Foot, a confrontation with the Shredder, the Shredder/Splinter conflict and a confrontation arising from it (which is explained in this one Michael Bay TMNT film! If you explain it it will actually have weight and oh look Splinter doesn’t have a top knot because this film quite rightly deduces we can tell a Japanese man without him needing one), Casey motherfucking Jones, running away to Northampton (without the seemingly requisite filler, thus this is easily the best ‘exile in Northampton’ because it’s short and powerful rather than long and filled with time wasting bullshit like poachers and alien princesses and sexually harassing bigfoot and turducken Chimeras that April can mentally connect with and aaaargh!), it’s all in here complete with decent acting and fight choreography that only becomes better the more you think that the stunt men doing it are wearing fly-eye masks or giant rubber latex turtle suits. I love every minute of this film, I even quite like Danny Pennington (though I like Keno better) the only complaint I have is that they switched Burne Thompson for Charles Pennington, I get adding Danny, he helps move the plot forward and even serves as a bit of an audience identification character now that April was such a recognised part of TMNT she couldn’t serve that purpose properly at the time, but why change April’s boss (and the channel she works for) for no reason? 

And that's it, hopefully you have been enraged enough to post why I am completely wrong and X is far better than X and that you all went and read Terracide, and personally I have always liked 'cowabunga'. 

9 though Mondo Gekco and half the Punk Frogs, plus Tokka and Rahzer, did return in a later episode this season ‘Dirk Savage, Mutant Hunter’ which only just missed out on being on this list, I’m sure it’s devastated.  
10 as this episode was banned from airing in the US, this is the air date for the UK (how times have changed, once upon a time it was us censoring TMNT), it’s first airing on American telly was in 2015. 
11 yes I AM proud of that
12 beginning one of the longest running traditions in Turtles – the Turtles must fuck off and dick around in a farmhouse for a while, the movie, 4Kids, IDW, Nicktoons, they’ve all done it.
13 Murphy and Ryan Brown had a deal in place to develop a Mighty Mutanimals television show (with corresponding merchandise) but the deal fell through while the Mutanimals’ ongoing series was cancelled, apparently this is why they decided to kill them all off, this may have given Archie TMNT its most shocking moment but that’s a bit petty don’t you think?
14 Michelangelo – who had been temporarily blinded in a previous arc – had been picked up by the coast guard after their plane was brought down by the Gang of Four.
15 just to keep up the trend of monitoring Murphy’s possibly involuntarily Captain Planeting, we do get a few panels in part 3 with the characters being horrified at the concept of deforestation (Which is what killed Slash’s planet and why he likes palm trees so much in this universe), I think he honestly can’t help himself, unsubtle preachiness just comes out. 
16 as much as I like Hun, I would have far preferred to have had Tatsu in 4Kids as Shredder’s human subordinate. 

I made a funny!

Top 30 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stories Numbers 30 to 16*

On the 13th of June I turned 30, I’m not dealing with this so instead I decided to both ignore and celebrate me lasting so long by writing a whole bunch of top 30 countdown lists.

First up is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as my first obsession and the only obsession I have that I’ve never lapsed in, even during Volume 4 when the book was about as exciting as watching paint dry while being serenaded by James Blunt, it seems like the most logical choice. I first jumped on the Turtles Party band wagon around 1989 via the cartoon series, which may have been the first year it was aired here in the UK but what cemented my love for the franchise was Playmates original action figure line.
What is this madness about kung-fu reptiles? Well firstly welcome out from under your rock, secondly I'll tell  ya: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a multimedia phenomenon since roughly 1989 but began life as a black and white mature readers’ comic book self-published by their creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird via their own comic book
company Mirage Studios. The book was kind of an affectionate parody of current hot comic books like The New Teen Titans, The Uncanny X-Men and especially Daredevil by Frank Miller, the first issue came out in 1984. Though the specifics change from one version of the TMNT to the other the basics are: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are four anthropomorphic turtles named after renaissance artists: Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael and trained to be ninja by their sensei, an anthropomorphic rat called Splinter, and generally fight a rival ninja clan called The Foot with the assistance of their human ally April O’Neil (and often another, masked vigilante Casey Jones). The Turtles break into the mainstream came when they were licensed to Playmates toys, who in turn contacted Fred Wolf and Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, an animation studio, to develop a cartoon mini-series to accompany the toys ala He-Man & the Masters of the Universe or Transformers. Playmates, Eastman and Laird and Murakami-Wolf-Swenson redesigned the concept for kids, bringing in the likes of Bebop & Rocksteady, though not initially successful (the cartoon began airing in 1988) the franchise did become the biggest thing in the world roughly around 1990. Although the original era and the franchise’s original run of success wound down by the mid-90’s, partially thanks to a shift in children’s devotion to the Power Rangers franchise and partly because that’s just the way it goes with children’s fads, it came back in 2003 for another run of success, by this point Peter Laird had bought Kevin Eastman out and had complete control of the series, Playmates retained the toy licence but this time 4Kids Entertainment produced a new cartoon series heavily based on the Mirage comics as well as putting out a new (boring) comic. Laird was very much a ‘purist’ and very much up himself (apparently you couldn’t even mention Venus De Milo, the girl turtle), he pretty much exemplified the worst type of fan, and he was the owner and co-creator! Thankfully Viacom, via Nickelodeon, bough Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all related concepts in 2009 and although Mirage can still publish up to 18 issues of a TMNT comic a year they haven’t and the current comic is put out by IDW, while Nicktoons handles the new cartoon and Paramount the new films and once
again the series has become a children’s fad.
You can pretty much split the TMNT into the following ‘eras’ – the ‘Vintage Era’ spanning from the first issue of the Mirage comic in 1984 to the end of the original cartoon series in 1996; the ‘Image era’ including the volume of the comic book published by Image Comics (starting in 1996) and the live action TV series Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation; the ‘Peter Laird’ era starting with the launch of the fourth volume of the comic book in 2001 until the Nickelodeon buyout in 2009 and encompassing the second cartoon and CGI film ‘TMNT’ and the ‘Viacom era’ we’re currently in now, and of course the Mirage era (when Eastman and/or Laird owned the property – 1984 to 2009) and the Viacom era (2009 upwards). The names are mine but the split works pretty well.
Anyway criteria for the list was pretty wide here, the Turtles had to be a major part of the story – so no cameos or quick appearances (like Shattered Image or Gen 13 13 A-B-C) but so long as they were it didn’t matter what format the story was told was in, all cross-overs outside of TMNT publications or cartoons (like say, their appearances in Flaming Carrot Comics or Usagi Yojimbo) were completely ok. So with all that crap out of the way, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:                     

30. Leonardo Versus Tempestra
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 4, Episode 351 (Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, 1990)
Written by Misty Taggart
Wha’appen? Leonardo becomes obsessed with beating a video game called ‘Tempestra’s Revenge’ sneaking back to play it the night after he discovers it, unfortunately this is during a storm and a lightning strike allows Tempestra to manifest as a living electrical being. With the other three Turtles trapped and Tempestra draining energy from a nearby nuclear power plant it’s up to Leonardo and April to stop her, at least until Donatello’s make-shift submarine is ready
Why? The rarest of things pre-Viacom: a Leonardo focussed story that doesn’t suck and doesn’t involve Leonardo getting some massive personality adjustment, as if he couldn’t carry the episode himself, well Tempestra’s Revenge proves that if you get a writer who understands his personality (which I’d be at a loss to describe, sorry), he really can, Leonardo is fantastic throughout. The reason it comes in so low while it’s very good there’s just a small bundle of things that top it being from being brilliant – Tempestra makes physics cry, Donatello can build an airtight submersible in an evening, Leo and April randomly fall onto a world’s largest rollercoaster (the hell)?) and worst of all – some of the jokes don’t work, only a few though (and some are very funny). Overall it’s a good solo episode with a good villain and actually makes the Fred Wolf Leonardo look like a likeable guy with an actual personality, for that alone it deserves to be on this list.

29. TMNT/Ghostbusters
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Ghostbusters issues 1-4 (IDW Comics, 2014)
Eric Burnham, Tom Waltz & Dan Schoening (with Cory Smith and Charles Paul Wilson III)
Wha’appen? The TMNT, April & Casey Jones end up in the universe of the Ghostbusters after Donatello and his friend Harold test out the duplicate of The Fugitoid’s portal they’ve made, unfortunately coming along for the ride is Chi-You – who’s from the same pantheon as TMNT villains Kitsune and The Rat King. With the help of the ‘busters they tackle the spirit, who possesses people including Casey, whom he at one point turns into a giant armoured Casey Jones.
Why? This is probably the best choice for a property for the TMNT to crossover with – even more so than the thematically similar Usagi Yojimbo and Wild West C.O.W. Boys of Moo-Mesa – but only if you were a kid during the TMNT’s first boom period. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really took over from Ghostbusters as THE franchise2 (Real Ghostbusters even made a terrible episode being bitter about that fact) but there was a crossover period (Ghostbusters II came out in ’89, TMNT’s first big year toy and cartoon wise) and so I reckon that this team-up was enacted a lot on the carpets of front rooms and bedrooms, the linoleum of kitchens and grass and patios of back gardens from around ’89 to ‘913 (it certainly did in my front room, kitchen and back garden) IDW just did us the favour of releasing an official version of our childhood play. The story is nothing deep or challenging (though it does help with the world building of the IDW TMNT continuity a little) but who the hell wanted it to be? All that was needed was the Ghostbusters and Turtles interacting, playing off each other and teaming-up against a suitably threatening enemy; we get that, with added Casey Jones, Kylie Griffin and the Bug-Eye Ghost thrown in for good measure. Which really makes it ideal for me as Casey Jones is one of my favourite characters, Kylie Griffin is one of my favourite characters and easily my top fictional crush of all time, and the Bug Eye Ghost is my favourite Real Ghostbusters toy (seriously).  

28. Year of the Turtle
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Year of the Turtle issues 1-3 (Archie Comics, 1996)
Dan Slott, Hugh Haynes, Harvey Mereadooeasio
Wha’appen? Every Year of the Turtle a talisman called the Turquoise Turtle grants its user’s wishes. Shredder has returned with a new army of Foot Soldiers and a group of super powered underlings and attempts to find the three pieces, spread across the world, forcing the Turtles to head out and do the same, during the struggle for the pieces Splinter is returned to his human form, and Michaelangelo  
Why? I’ve just had this weird fascination with the book since it came out, well since issue 3 came out (of course I bought issue 3 first), it was very odd and very intriguing and remains both of these things and I still really enjoy it for those reasons, the only thing I don’t really like being the (mercifully) short parody of the Power Rangers in issue one, but I’m actually convinced that didn't happen and Yoshi just added that in to appease his audience (the whole story is being told by Hamato Yoshi). Today what interests me about it how much it reminds me of the current scripts used for the Nicktoon (except the globe-trotting aspect), in fact when I read it now (and I do this fairly often) I hear the dialogue in those voice actor’s voices (the first Leonardo, not Oz), I wonder if I’m alone in this? Probably, I’m probably alone in putting this on my top 30 TMNT stories as well.

27. City at War
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issues 50-62 (Mirage Studios 1992-1993)
Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Jim Lawson
Wha’appen? The TMNT family is shattered – April has left to live with her sister in L.A, Casey has become stuck in Goathead and fallen in love with a pregnant waitress named Gabrielle and the Turtles have returned to New York in response to a civil war between the Foot Clan but find themselves idling away the time as Raphael grows frustrated and Leo has a crisis of self. When Karai, head of the Japanese chapter of the Foot Clan arrives with a proposition – kill Shredder’s Elite and the Foot Clan will be done with them, breaking the cycle of vengeance started with Homato Yoshi and Oroku Sakai – the Turtles have to decide if they should move on with their lives, if they want to and if they can. Meanwhile Splinter has fallen and broken his leg, starving inside an old industrial complex he finds help from The Rat King, but isn’t he dead?  
Why? The 4Kids version of this story feels more like a city at war but it lacks the sub-plots with Splinter, April and Casey – some might say that’s a good thing but Splinter’s ghostly goings on, April learning how shallow and awful L.A. is and Casey being forced to grow up all work for me as much as the Turtles wondering how to find their own path and then killing lots of things to achieve that, it adds an overall theme of learning something that improves your life and all four plots affect me equally…. and I like the really nice happy ending. In the end the cartoon version is probably more enjoyable and fits its title better but the comic book version is more emotional and different enough that I feel ok putting both on here, oh yeah, both are on here, you didn’t know that yet did you? Oops, sorry!   

26. Bishop’s Gambit
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 3, Episode 24 (4Kids Entertainment, 2004)
Written by Greg Johnson
Wha’appen? Agent Bishop has finally lost it, he kidnaps Splinter and launches his Seekers, genetically engineered super-cyborgs designed to hunt out alien life wherever it may hide and exterminate it, aided by Leatherhead and the Fugitoid the Turtles break into Bishop’s headquarters to confront the head of Earth Protection Force.
Why? Although there was a lot of adaptations early on, the 4Kids cartoon did yield some great original characters as well – Hun, Angel, Traximus and of course (of course, duh) Agent Bishop - who I refuse to call simply ‘Bishop’ because that makes me think of the X-Man (who predates Agent Bishop by some years). I figured Agent Bishop would turn up on here somewhere and here we are: an episode with him as the sole villain, other than the slight comments on racism there isn’t really much to the episode, it’s simply a good episode with the Turtles and two of the most reoccurring characters from across the franchise working together to defeat a great villain, who himself has become a reoccurring element across the franchise.

25. Karai’s Vendetta
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 1, Episode 21 (Nickelodeon Animation Studio, 2013)
Written by Russ Carney & Ron Corcillo
Wha’appen? Shredder and Karai find out from a (thoroughly tortured) member of the Kraang that April is key to the alien’s plans, so Karai it sent out to capture her while the Turtles are busy trying to shut down an underwater Kraang facility, leaving the TMNT’s closest friend to face the daughter of the Shredder alone.
Why? I like the current Nickelodeon TMNT cartoon, in fact I prefer it to the 4Kids Entertainment version, I like the 4Kids version, it was very well written, very mature and I think it was brilliant that all of the comic stories got such great adaptations (Sons of the Silent Age aside) that were viewed by such a large audience but the Nicktoon is just so much fun, with far better voice acting (though I miss Raphael’s Brooklyn accent, regardless of how nonsensical it is that he’d have it) and unlike the 4Kids ‘toon it’s not limited to taking elements solely from the Mirage comics or using things it’s created itself (thanks to no more Peter Laird), making it far more suited to a long-time fan like me and more suitable to this time in the franchise’s history, sure I don’t like their versions of all the elements they reuse (I prefer 4Kids Baxter Stockman and IDW’s Bebop & Rockstead, for instance) but the fact that it can do this, and does it well, just makes me really appreciate it (of course it couldn’t do this without the previous incarnations to work from but then this list should show you my love of the franchise as a whole). And this is pretty much the quintessential episode for the Nicktoon TMNT: you’ve got Shredder and their unique version of Karai; you've got the Kraang; you’ve got Donatello’s crush on April; you’ve got good comedy and the good action and you’ve got all of this with my favourite version of Karai as the main villain (and the titular character) and a really inappropriate, but really funny, sex joke.    

24. Turtles Forever
Turtles Forever Special (4Kids Entertainment, 2009)
Written by Matthew Dredk, Roy Burdine, Lloyd Goldfine and Rob David
Wha’appen? Another set of strangely cartoony Turtles arrive New York, having accidentally teleported themselves, the Technodrome and the villains within to this universe, setting off a string of events that threatens to destroy the whole multiverse. When the other universe’s Shredder and Krang bring back Ch’rell he and Karai take over the Technodrome, augmenting it and the Foot Bots and using the mutagen to build an army of half-animal soldiers lead by a mutated Hun and sets out to destroy the source of Ninja Turtles across the multiverse – the black and white world of Turtle Prime. 
Why? Because it’s a great big bundle of celebratory fun that’s why, because it offers a Mirage-era Turtle fan an animated dream-come-true by pairing up the three biggest incarnations of the characters to that point and having them all come across well, because it applies 4Kids writing to Fred Wolf concepts and that ends up equalling a giant flying monstrous Technodrome of doom. But wait, didn’t the current Nicktoon series do a version of this and don’t you prefer the Nicktoon to the 4Kids show? Why do you have this on the lists and not their crossover? Well because I actually prefer this version – the Nicktoon lacks a certain awesomeness in some of its concepts, it doesn’t really give such good parts to the Murakami-Wolf-Swenson cartoon characters and the Mirage comic book Turtles are given far less screen time and don’t actually interact with any other Turtle team. So why is this so low, and specifically why it lower than number 22 despite that being unofficial and drawn by Jim bloody Lawson? Honestly what lets down Turtles Forever for me is what it excludes, which is undoubtedly the fault of Peter Laird because he’s so up himself his breath tastes like stomach acid, hell I’m surprised he allowed the special to acknowledge the original cartoon, but to make Forever perfect it would have needed to actually have given parts (and not just cameos) to the Movie universe and the Adventures Universe at least, with references to the Image comics, original Playmates action figures and Konami video games, it would have had to have spanned all of the Turtles up to that point in other words, oh and they could have got some of the original voice actors back from the original cartoon, the Nicktoon did that right at least.   

23.  The Slash Trilogy
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures Volume 2 issues 23-25 (Archie Comics, 1991)
Stephen Murphy (as Dean Clarrain), Chris Allan, Garret Ho & Jim Lawson plus inkers
Wha’appen? Krang is able to escape Dimension X dumping ground Planet Morbus with the help of a psychotic palm-tree obsessed mutant turtle Slash and a convict named Bellybomb and almost accidentally ends up getting the old gang back together, stumbling upon Bebop and Rocksteady (on another Dimension X Planet) and reuniting with the Shredder. But things aren’t the same anymore, Bebop & Rocksteady are still loyal but no longer really interested in doing villainous deeds after spending time on their Eden Planet, and Krang is forced to physically take over The Shredder to use him against the Turtles.
Why? Archie Slash is probably the best incarnation of the character (though Nicktoons Slash really gives him a run for his money) and this plot pretty much amounts to Krang riding Shredder into battle flanked by a mad evil Ninja Turtle and a fat alien that spews on things – that’s already a win but there’s a real sad undercurrent to this story, a feeling of growing up, and it’s all the better for it, Shredder, Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady have moved on from one-note family friendly cartoon characters, Krang is willing to use Shredder like a flesh puppet, Shredder is more competent, intelligent and threatening and B&R are just better people thanks to character development and we effectively watch the gang break up, Shredder and Krang’s trust is broken and Bebop & Rocksteady are happily retired, it elevates the story to say the least. Plus the ending is just… Shredder doesn’t leave with a promise to get the Turtles next time and a swoosh of his cloak, he slumps off depressed, humbled, irritated but genuinely thankful to his enemies for saving him from Krang – no matter how much that disgusts him, Murphy really was a good writer when he wasn’t too preoccupied with being Captain Planet4.

22. Odyssey
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Oddysey (Andrew Modeen, 2015)
Andrew Modeen, Jim Lawson, Rick Arthur, Dan Berger, Arseniy Dubakov plus a host of others
Wha’appen? Plucked just moments from his death by Renet, who’s also dying, Donatello is imbued with time travelling power and recruits his brothers, old, tired and possibly about to die from natural causes for one last fight – against the Shogun, his underlings Savante Romero and Savante Juliet and his ally Null. The Shogun is set up at the end of time using the Turnstone to destroy universes and aided by Cuddly the Cowlick, Slash and Venus De Milo the Ninja Turtles, now so very far from being teenage, will have to stop their brother, wait, their brother?
Why? While as near to official as dammit is to swearing Odyssey isn’t an official TMNT project, it’s a fan work written, produced by and published by fan Andre Modeen5 but working with Mirage Comics and TMNT penciller mainstay Jim Lawson, as well as others associated with TMNT officially (like Sophie Campbell) and Modeen having gotten the ‘rub’ from Kevin Eastman on his earlier TMNT projects (Eastmen did inks) makes it unofficially official enough for me to feel fine about putting it on this list. Designed as an end to the Mirage-era of the Turtles  and not just the Mirage comics (though that too) but everything from the time Mirage owned the franchise - the first two cartoons, the first four films, TMNT Adventures, Next Mutation, the Palladium role playing books, everything – Odyssey set itself a helluva a task and some bloody high expectations to meet and as far as I’m concerned it met them, and in fact actually kind of exceeded them by not only acting as an end to the Mirage era but as a bridge to the Viacom era. Even though I would have preferred a little more from the Konami Video Games, the 4Kids cartoon and the original Playmates action figures (though perhaps in the case of the 4Kids show Modeen just didn’t seem much of a point as most of it variations on the main Mirage continuity) the story plays fair, giving them all respect – even the generally loathed Next Mutation and Venus De Milo (who I’ve never disliked, no, really, I like Next Mutation fine), it does seem like they’re going for a character derailment early on but happily swerves away at the last moment, given Venus an important role as effectively a legacy character to Lord Simultaneous and Renet – characters the fanbase (generally) likes. These’re major reasons but honestly the main reason it’s here is that it’s a damn good story, it feels like an epic and it feels extremely satisfying too with roles and moments given to those they should have been, well to please fans, iconography and me anyway: Michaelangelo isn’t defeated by anyone, he’s defeated by Raphael; Null isn’t simply defeated, Venus brings back the souls of the Mutanimals to avenge their murder at his hands; Venus and Slash are removed from the story so that the final confrontation can be just between the four brothers – and so on. That’s kind of a good point you know, whatever else I write in these ‘Why?’ sections, the main reason will always be ‘because they’re great stories’ but this one is the last story, the last story for the era of TMNT I grew up with, ‘my’ era of TMNT, so it’s just that little it extra special; the only reason it’s not higher is the art’s by fucking Jim Lawson and he’s as horrendous as he has been since about two minutes after his finished drawing TMNT Volume 2, of course there was no one who could have been a better fit for the project, Lawson has stayed with TMNT longer than just about anyone other than Peter Laird and drawn more Mirage comics than anyone (and apparently Mordeen’s a bit of a Mirage purist, which makes the respect afforded to the rest of the franchise that much cooler I guess), but that doesn’t change the fact that his art is just ugly and he seems to think proportion is optional, foreshortening is passable, all humans are made from bootleg Lego and can't lay out a dramatic panel to save his life, if the art had gone to less deserving but far more talented artists like Ryan Brown or Mike Dooney this would be a lot higher.

21. Sons of the Silent Age
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue 28 (Mirage Studios, 1990)
Stephen Murphy & Jim Lawson (with Kevin Eastman and Rick Veitch)
Wha’appen? Following their return to New York and encounter with the Bloodsucker6 the Turtles have become aimless and distant living at the old farmhouse, so on Splinter’s suggestion they raft down a local river, there they find a dead merwoman, and the last four mermen of her species, as April fails to revive the female she makes an upsetting comparison between these mermen and four mutant friends.
Why? “Murphy really was a good writer when he wasn’t too preoccupied with being Captain Planet” and Jim Lawson really was a good artist until he somehow evolved into a horrible one, reading this after looking at his ugly-ass work on Odyssey is like comparing the works of two different people, from different time periods, only one of which draws with his hands and not by sticking a pen in his ear. Of course there’s still a little bit of environmentalism and Lawson still has some issues with human faces but this really is fantastic work from the pair – masterfully paced and devastatingly effective and that’s actually why it’s not in the top 20, it’s a beautiful story but I really don’t want to contemplate the lonely sexless existence of the Ninja Turtles and their inevitable fate to die alone in such a heart wrenching way too often, also the story was slightly ruined by revealing that there were more Merpeople alive and well in the sewers of Manhattan in TMNT Volume 2.   

20. The Return of Dregg Arc
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 10, Episodes 1-8 (Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, 1996)
Written by Jeffery Scott
Wha’appen? Lord Dregg has returned from Dimension X, now assisted by Mung after the alien built a swarm of ant-sized builder robots for him to use. His first set of schemes involve making use of the Turtles’ unstable mutations, which they and Carter are busy working to cure, after failing to turn Leonardo into an atom bomb he then tries to mutate himself using the Turtles and Shredder and Krang’s life energy, a plan that only gets solved by time travel, and who could plan for that? After sending a Dimension X crime boss the Globfather to bother the Turtles while he composes himself for his last great scheme – if he can’t win an away game, he’ll force the Turtles to play on his home turf, by teleporting the Earth to one of his territories… in Dimension X, then he just decides to imbue himself with incredible power, leaving the only thing that the Turtles can think of to stop him being Krang’s old android body, pity they have to find it first.
Why? Is putting a whole season of a show on this list cheating? Fuck it, after 22 everything’s fair game if you ask me and anyway it’s all one long story-arc by the same writer so it’s technically all one story and technically completely fine, technically. Season 10 is the original Turtles cartoon at its most competent and by that I mean everything is at its most competent – the characters are at their most competent, the animation is at its most competent, the plots are at their most competent (proper plot twists and everything), the dialogue is at its most competent, after the occasional flash of excellence in a sea of tripe that was the first nine seasons it’s fantastic to have a whole season that can be classed as ‘good’ leading up a finale that can be classed as ‘awesome’. Dregg has evolved into a fantastic villain; planning ahead, double checking, developing contingency plans and changing up his schemes on the fly to snatch a little victory from defeat, effectively turning himself into an alien equivalent of Xanatos (though he never quite reaches that level of magnificent bastardry) all the while voiced by Tony Jay - but it’s not all new villain, we get Shredder & Krang as well (sadly without Bebop and Rocksteady) and they come across just as well as everyone else. The only downsides are Carter taking roles that April really should be fulfilling (though she is also on the top of her competency, rescuing the Turtles one time) and Jeffery Scott’s insistence on having Splinter talk in platitudes 70% of the time, regardless of how helpful that may be or how pushed for time the other characters are.  

19. City at War
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season, 2 Episodes 14-16 (4Kids Entertainment, 2004)
Written by Eric Luke, Marty Isenberg & Chuck Patton
Wha’appen? After the apparent death of The Shredder the city’s criminals have gone to war – the Mob, The Foot Clan (under the leadership of Shredder’s Elite Guard) and the Purple Dragons are engaged in open warfare. Leonardo, feeling responsible, wants to get involved but his brothers and his sensei don’t agree with him, so he ignores them, leading all four Turtles to get involved in a fight at Foot HQ – the night the Mob hit them with a giant robots built by Baxter Stockman, a huge conflict that brings Casey Jones into the mix as well. Meanwhile Hun has retaken control of the Purple Dragons and Karai, the Shredder’s adopted daughter and leader of the Japanese chapter of The Foot, has come to New York with a proposal – be her contingency plan and The Foot will not exact revenge for the death of The Shredder. 
Why? The comic book City at War isn’t really about a City at War, in fact the city really isn’t at war, the Foot Clan is and the story’s is more focused on the emotional journeys of the book’s main characters as they move on to the next part of their lives (and struggle with that), the 4Kids version keeps the basics of the Turtles’ plot from the comic – their conflict over how much to get involved and confusion as to how, whether to take Karai’s offer and move on even if it means working with the Foot, Leonardo having an internal conflict, and even the story’s big set pieces – the battle with the huge robot and the fight with the Shredder Elite alongside Karai!Shredder in an abandoned building - but wraps it in a story that feels like they’re in a huge conflict that better suits the title and concept. Does it say a lot about me that I put the shallower version of the story higher up? Maybe but the cartoon version is also better paced, the Turtles come off better (even though Raph is a massive dick throughout), Karai actually looks like the Shredder and not a woman cosplaying as The Shredder making the Elite falling for her ruse far more believable, Karai is more fleshed out and easier to grow attached too (and there’s no random dead daughter), the climax also feels bigger and more, well, climactic - so yeah it is shallower but it’s also a bit better.

18. Challenges
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Challenges (Mirage Studios, 1991)
Mike Dooney
Wha’appen? Leonardo finds a sewer and remembers the TMNT’s history. The Turtles play a trick on Splinter to see if he’s still got it when it comes to fighting. Raphael ends up helping an old lady. Michaelangelo messes with some unlicensed hunters. Leonardo trains while someone has been signed up to the Barry Manilow Fan Club. Donatello plays a video game.
Why? That doesn’t make it sound very great does it? Challenges is little character pieces (and an origin retelling) and it’s just really nice, you get to spend time with each of the Turtles on their own, just being themselves, it’s almost like hanging out with them and each gives us a good look at their personalities, including the sides we don’t normally see, mostly because it doesn’t help further a plot, but we have no plot to further here, we’re just hanging out with them so Raph can show his softer side, Leo can be playful, Donatello can just relax, perhaps best of all we get to see that while Mikey is a still a goofball he is a skilled ninja and the book also never forgets that these are teenagers – one of the many things that Viacom does well (that Mirage often failed at) is remembering that they’re writing four teens, and Challenges has the same thing going for it (hell that’s the whole point of Leo’s chapter). Splinter’s story is a little different, more about his relationship with his sons, but that’s ok, because that’s also a nice little moment you get to share with characters you love. Sometimes being nice is just as good as being epic or awesome or edgy or anything else, sometimes nice is enough, it is here.

17. Case of the Killer Pizzas
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 2, Episode 6 (Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, 1988)
Written by Douglas Booth
Wha’appen? Krang sends Shredder some eggs from Dimension X, to make sure they get to the Turtles Shredder and Baxter co-opt a big Pizza giveaway, putting the meatball-like eggs on some of the prize pizzas. Things don’t go to plan when a rush delivery job takes two of the Pizzas across town and Shredder is spotted by the Turtles (who are of course entering the competition after Shredder made sure a swathe of leaflets flooded into their sewers). Baxter is completely unaware of all this and goes ahead with rigging the contest so the TMNT win, except they give the only remaining rigged Pizza to April as a thank you for entering their names, meaning the three ‘killer pizza’ monsters come to life all across New York. The Turtles, April & Vernon, The Shredder & Baxter and Irma all independently follow the monsters into the sewers – a bit of a problem, as the aliens grow to full size in water, with mistakes, events and fainting forcing  The Turtles to work with Shredder.  
Why? Because it was my favourite episode as a kid *hangs head in shame* but to my delight (and surprise, the Fred Wolf show has not held up well, mostly because it was usually shit at the time too) the episode holds up really nicely, there is a slight issue with the delivery boy taking what I estimate to be about two hours to deliver the rush-job pizzas but other than that everything’s pretty damn good, sure it’s only this high because this is my list and nostalgia was always going to end up affecting it but the dialogue is great, all the jokes are funny and there’s no jokes when unnecessary, the threat feels very real, the Turtles make mistakes and have to fix them, the resolution isn’t easy (though it is ‘foreshadowed’ in the same way straight-up telling you something is foreshadowing, but at least it’s brought up beforehand) and we get a nice (but too brief) team up between Shredder and the Turtles. My only complaint isn’t really this episode’s fault – I just hate white mad scientist Baxter Stockman, I like him fine once he becomes a fly but before then he just pisses me off, but even he’s bearable in this episode and actually has a funny moment as he and Shredder escape.

16. Mikey vs The Mob
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 3 issues 6-8 (Image Comics, 1997)
Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco & Andrew Pepoy7
Wha’appen? After testing out Donatello’s skills now he’s a cyborg Michelangelo spectacularly fails at babysitting Casey Jones daughter Shadow8 and she’s taken from Casey and April’s flat. The TMNT find a local homeless man killed by a sai, as it wasn’t Raphael (he liked Charlie) they suspect the Foot, desperate to prove his sparring partners innocent Raphael goes to the ninja clan – only to find they’re totally guilty, though they didn’t know Shadow was connected to the Turtles. In exchange for them giving the rugrat back Raph must kill New York mob kingpin Antoine Puzorelli, he can’t go through with it but as luck would have it Puzorelli was the one who had Shadow snatched, turns out she’s his granddaughter. Barely surviving the disappointed Foot Clan dropping him off the condo the mobster was staying in (via window) Raphael gets the word to his guilt-ridden brother (Casey is out getting drunk) and Michaelangelo sets off to rescue Shadow, from her own christening, which is full of mobsters.
Why? I am quite alone in my love of TMNT Volume 3, I respect this, but I love that volume warts, long Deathwatch arc ‘n all and this is the best of it, which might not be much of an accolade to some fans but hopefully even if you don’t like the series as a whole you should find things to like in this; Casey Jones is back in the mask twice and one time fighting a big metal turtle, the Foot are a major part and the main villains aren’t cyborgs or the rest of the sort of 90’s extremities associated with Image but mobsters - and it’s tied to an old Mirage story. Other than Donatello as a cyborg and Raph’s face, oh and the odd bit of questionable anatomy on April, this could be from any time in the franchise, and would still be a good Turtles story. The downsides? They get Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees mixed up, I dunno if that’s intentional to show the mobster goons just don’t know their horror icons but it bugs me dammit!

1 due to Season 4 being split between episodes that aired in Syndication, episodes that were only shown in Europe and Japan (before being re-run years later on the USA Network) and episodes produced for CBS this episode number is debatable, I took it from Wikipedia which orders them thus: Syndication episodes (episodes 1-13) then the CBS episodes (episodes 14-39) and numbers the Europe/Japan episodes (The ‘European Tour’ episodes) as part of season 7 (which is roughly when it aired in the US) which to my knowledge is the official ordering according to whoever officiates such a thing – Mirage, Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, Viacom, the DVD company, whoever it is.     
2 For the picky, yes, the huge success of Batman (the first movie) happened around the same time but that was only for a very short period – around six months or so – and never sustained the level of success I feel necessary to make it comparable to RGB and TMNT despite its incredible sales that Christmas, and y’know, being great.
3 in case you somehow care, my vote for ‘line most played with the Turtles figures’ is Toxic Crusaders, half the kids I knew didn’t even know they WEREN’T TMNT figures.
4 we do get a little Captain Planeting with Rocksteady & Bebop breaking some animals out of Central Park Zoo, but this is actually in-character for them at this point – having been living on an Eden World living wild and embracing the animal side of themselves. 
5 and this isn’t the first time he’s done this either, Modeen put together two issues of TMNT Volume 3 to wrap up that story and for this I am eternally in his debt
6 fun fact, before the Viacom buyout this issue was considered cannon but the story it was sequelling – The River – wasn’t, why? Because Rich Veitch didn’t sign the ‘retroactive work for hire’ contracts all the contributors to the ‘Guest’ era of the comic were 'asked' to sign so Mirage would own their work.
7 and Josh Eichorn of course  
8 Shadow Jones is the daughter of Gabrielle and a man she met before she met Casey but was born after Gabrielle and Casey Jones married so she is his legal daughter but not his biological daughter, as April and Casey Jones are not married she is not legally anything to April but April has raised her since a few months after she was born so they have a mother/daughter relationship. Image Comics’ third volume of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was struck from cannon because it didn’t fit with Peter Laird’s vision despite him doing very similar things in his volume Peter Laird didn’t have a say in any of it Peter Laird is a bit of a twat so Shadow’s father has never been revealed in Mirage cannon officially, Image said her father was Albert Puzorelli, son of the villain of this story, Antoine Puzorelli.