3) Archie Comics
I’ll forever defend Archie Comics-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures as the most overlooked and underrated incarnation of the Turtles. The Ninja Turtles tend to whipsaw back and forth between goofy and grim, rarely finding that perfect balance in between, but these comics hit it. They’re bright, colorful and cartoony, and had a good amount of humor, but, particularly towards the later issues, they introduced more complex storytelling and adult themes in natural, tasteful way. Also, as illustrated above, TMNT Adventures featured a panel of Raphael punching out Hitler, so yeah, Archie wins “best TMNT comics” in a walk.
2) Konami Video Games
More recent Ninja Turtle video games are mostly just bland licensed titles that stick to whatever cartoon or movie they’re adapting as closely as possible, but Konami’s early 8 and 16-bit games were unique enough that I’d consider them an incarnation of the Turtles unto themselves. Konami’s Turtles games cherry picked from all the other Turtle incarnations around at the time — characters from the comics, cartoons and movies rendered in classic Japanese pixel-art style all hanging out together. Awesome. The games, of course, also played great. They were simple, and yet never felt like boring beat ’em up slogs, a formula literally hundreds of other games tried to copy to little success.
1) Live Action Movies
Maybe it was because I was already a little old when the Turtles hit big, but I never thought they were particularly cool. They seemed kind of nerdy to me, which was fine because I like nerdy things, but they were supposed to be cool — cool but rude even! Really the only time they felt legitimately cool to me was in the first two live action movies. The constant one-liners, the New York accents, hanging out with Vanilla Ice, these guys were, dare I say it, wicked tubular. Also, I’ll forever love Jim Henson’s fantastic Turtle suits. They felt natural in a live-action environment without losing the charm of the comics and cartoon, which is no easy task (I’m sideways glancing at you Michael Bay Turtles).
Oh, and for those wondering, no Ninja Turtles III doesn’t count. In fact as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t exist at all, lalala, all the old live action Turtles movies were great.
So, how would you rank the Turtles’ various forms? Where do you think the new Frankenturtles are going to end up ranking?