The turtle-tastic fight to save some heroes

Rise To Action // As both Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (left) and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (right) are added to Netflix, a large and loving community grows around the franchise. (Screenshot courtesy of Netflix)

by Sienna Nicholson

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is near and dear to the hearts of fans all over the globe. A TV show following the legendary skateboarding, pizza-obsessed turtles through their adventures of adolescence and crime-fighting is a core memory in the childhood of children from the 80s, early 2000s, and early 2010s. Recently, there was hope to give that same experience to children of the late 2010s. 

Back in 2018, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was created as the newest rendition of the beloved children’s show immediately following its predecessor, which had just finished in late 2017 after five successful years on Nickelodeon.

In true revamp fashion, the show’s announcement wasn’t taken too positively by die-hard TMNT fans. As was the trend with every new variation of the show upon the first arrival, expectations were low, if not downright hateful, as many were still holding on dearly to the last edition.

The list of complaints seemed to be endless. For starters, the design had taken a drastic turn as the turtles were given far more individuality than ever before. Each turtle for the first time ever was their own species of turtle which applied to their new designs; Leonardo, a red-eared slider; Donatello, a soft shell; Raphael, an alligator snapping turtle; and Michealangelo, a box turtle.

Along with the species change, the new series has an art style with a sharper, more anime-like detail and vibrant colors. The animation was quicker and more snappy in movement with less fluidity in shots. Not only that, but the show replaced the iconic original weapons of the four turtles with new mystic weapons that applied magical elements the boys had never had in past renditions.

With the vast changes to the turtles themselves, the main issue older fans seemed to have with this new show was how it seemed far too childish and comedic than TMNT was supposedly meant to be. It was often compared to Teen Titans Go!, a revamp of the classic Teen Titans over on Cartoon Network that was infamous for its crude, childish humor and blatant mockery of the original show older fans adored. TMNT lovers were afraid the same was to come out of Rise, leading to a violent hatred for the show, despite most not even watching more than the pilot episode.

Paired with dismissive fans, Nickelodeon was in complete disarray when handling the show’s existence. 

As the show was first airing, it was challenging to find. It was on Nickelodeon for those who had cable, but its strange, irregular schedule made it hard to track episodes, especially in a cohesive order that made some sense. 

Those who didn’t have access to live television were left to scour the web or purchase the show as it was only available on obscure streaming platforms. From there, the show’s airings decreased even further as the show was transferred from Nickelodeon to its smaller channel Nicktoons, and international airings were canceled.

The show became a shadow in the corner of Nickelodeon’s production, and while there was a small loving fanbase slowly growing in support of Rise, it wasn’t enough. 

Abruptly, despite the show being initially planned to have two fully developed seasons, failure of studio management paired with just enough fan rebuttal led to the second season suddenly being cut in half from its original 26 episodes to a squished 13 episodes without any announcement.

Miraculously, the writers managed to pull through and create an excellent season 2 finale with all of the restrictions and time constraints given. Unfortunately, that seemed to be the show’s final hurrah. With the conclusion of the second season, the show was put on a hiatus that didn’t seem to have an end in sight.

That is until a few months ago. 

While the show officially finished airing August 7th, 2020, there was still a chance for a comeback when Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie was announced to initially release in 2021, later pushed back to August 5th of 2022.

The film would be taking place a year after the events of the season two finale and would be dropped on Netflix, along with the show itself being added to the streaming platform. It was this movie that gave the show its chance of revival.

“We were always told that the show was ‘paused’ and that it could be brought back if the movie did well,” head writer Ron Corcillo responded to an optimistic fan on Twitter when asked about the future of Rise as a whole. “It’s pretty rare for a show to come back after this long, but if it happened, it would be because the movie and series did well on Netflix. So keep watching and spread the word!” 

Corcillo and several other writers, storyboarders, producers, and more who worked their blood, sweat, and tears into this show have been repeating this message since a little before the movie itself premiered. The crew was begging people to spread the word and watch Rise’s content as much as they can, just for a second chance.

Through the movie’s release, people had begun to understand why it’s worth fighting for.

As the show became more accessible by being added to Netflix, several TMNT fans who were initially uninterested or downright hateful towards Rise decided to give the show a chance. And what they found caught several off guard.

The show wasn’t just good. It was fantastic.

Suddenly, an uprise in attention was being given to Rise as the movie’s release drew near. Several video essays were being created on Youtube discussing how wrong the community was to disregard such an impeccable show, detailing all of the things that made it unique and incredible.

No longer were the designs tacky and too far from the original, but creative and vibrant. The humor was adored, and the character development was both a new take and yet still held true to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

Clip compilations were assembled on TikTok, fanart galore spread like wildfire on Twitter, and deep and loving analysis of the narrative and its characters was discussed on Tumblr. The show was growing in popularity day by day, and when the proposal was given for a chance at even more content, the fans didn’t hesitate to fight.

Hashtags such as #UnpauseROTTMNT and #SaveRiseofTMNT have been spread all across the internet wherever you can find Rise content, trending almost daily on Twitter. Repeatedly both the show and movie have fluctuated in and out of Netflix’s Top 10 viewed shows and movies. All in the effort to continue this brilliant show that was robbed of its true potential, and even then is still an incredible gift to TMNT fans everywhere.

The fight continues as no one currently knows where Nickelodeon stands on Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Fans refuse to back down, and are continuing the battle by discussing and creating for their favorite franchise on the daily, as well as rewatching the show and movie to their heart’s content. 

Anyone can help to try and bring back this wonderful show. The more viewers there are, the louder the audience is in wanting more, then the better chance there is to save the world’s favorite half-shell heroes.