In 1984, the world was introduced to the now legendary heroes in a half-shell in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #1 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. It began as a parody of Marvel's Daredevil, getting their powers from the "same" ooze that blinded Matt Murdock. Since then, they've appeared in multiple movies and tv shows, both in live action and animated form.
Named for the great renaissance artists by their master Splinter, Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael were trained in the art of Ninjitsu to protect the people of New York City. They've faced off against dozens of villains over the years, from ninjas and robots to mutants and super-shredders. Here are the 15 deadliest villains they've ever encountered.
15 BEBOP AND ROCKSTEADY
Bebop and Rocksteady actually appeared in a toyline for the Ninja Turtles designed by Peter Laird before they ever appeared in a comic or on-screen, but when the 1987 animated series debuted, they were some of the first characters to be introduced, first as humans and then in their mutated rhino and warthog forms. They became so popular with the fans that they appeared in every subsequent animated series, including the Archie comic book run and the currently ongoing IDW series. They also made their first live action appearance in 2016's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows."
However, Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman aren't big fans of Bebop and Rocksteady, stating that the characters are too goofy and stupid. Their original vision for the Turtles was more dark and serious, but when they sold the rights to Viacom, things became a lot more light-hearted. Despite being goofy, though, they did manage to kill Donatello in issue #44 of the IDW series by writer Kevin Eastman and artist Cory Smith. Luckily, his consciousness was transferred to a cybernetic body while his turtle body was repaired, but for a brief time, Donatello really was dead.
14 BAXTER STOCKMAN
Baxter Stockman is a genius mad scientist who usually allies himself with Shredder or Krang as an enemy of the Turtles. He originally appeared in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #2 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, as the creator of the Mousers, a swarm of deadly robots with jaws powerful enough to chew through concrete and steel. In the 2012 series, it's revealed that M.O.U.S.E.R.S. stands for Mobile Offensive Underground Search Excavation and Retrieval Sentries, for their ability to burrow underground to steal valuable items for Stockman.
In the 1987 and 2012 animated series, Baxter Stockman accidentally mutated himself into a hybrid human-fly creature, and in the 2003 animated series, his brain is put into a cyborg body after falling to his apparent death in the East River. In each incarnation, the extreme modification of his body only leads his already insane mind to deteriorate further and make him a more ruthless and evil enemy to the Turtles.
13 TOKKA AND RAHZAR
Tokka and Rahzar originally debuted in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze," because Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird objected to the inclusion of Bebop and Rocksteady in the film. Thus, the writers were forced to come up with two new characters to take their place. They were created by Shredder and the Foot Clan using an alligator snapping turtle and a gray wolf with the same ooze that created the turtles. However, to Shredder's dismay, they were only babies, so they were fairly stupid.
Despite only having the intelligence of a human toddler, they had an extreme amount of strength. The first time Shredder unleashed them, telling them to "go play," they flipped over cars, snapped telephone poles in half, and destroyed buildings. Originally, they were only intended as stand-ins, but they went on to appear in all three animated series, and the non-canon "Turtle Soup" limited series by writer Craig A. Stormon and artist Steve Bissette.
12 THE RAT KING
The Rat King first appeared as a minor one-off villain in the Mirage comic series "Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #4 by Jim Lawson. He encounters the Turtles and Casey Jones, believing them to be "monsters" who want to take his territory. He attacks them, only to be defeated in a duel with Leonardo and falling to his death in the bowels of a silo. He has since appeared in each animated series, and in both the Archie and IDW comic book series.
He's usually shown to have a telepathic ability to control armies of rats that he was originally given by a mystical ancient order known as The Pantheon, in which each member has the ability to control a different animal. His origins have been slightly different in each different series, but his telepathic connection with rats has even been used to manipulate Splinter to attack the Turtles!
11 YAOTL AND HIS STONE GENERALS
In 2007's "TMNT," Yaotl was an immortal warlord in 1000 B.C. who led his four siblings as Generals in his conquest to rule the world. He gained immortality when they opened a portal to another dimension, but his siblings were turned to stone, and 13 monsters were unleashed on the world, destroying his armies. In the 21st century, he has the Turtles' close friend, April O'Neil acquire the Stone Generals for him, so he can re-open the portal, send the 13 monsters back and end his curse of immortality.
The Turtles are forced to not only fight the 13 monsters, but also Yaotl's Stone Generals. When the Generals realize that their brother seeks to end their immortality, they betray him and capture Leonardo in place of the 13th monster. The Turtles raid his mansion against an army of Foot Clan soldiers to rescue Leonardo and battle the Stone Generals to put the 13th monster back in place and end their reign of destruction on the Earth.
Leatherhead is a mutated alligator with razor-sharp claws and teeth, enhanced strength and an accelerated healing factor. Although he's gone back and forth between being an ally and an enemy of the turtles, he's prone to fits of rage in which he attacks innocent people and at times has been shown to be mentally unstable. He started off as an infant alligator who escaped into the sewers and was rescued and mutated by the Utrom aliens. After an explosion at their headquarters, he was forced back into the sewers, where he eventually met the Turtles.
Later on, Donatello agrees to help Leatherhead in his attempt to create a device that will transport him back to the Utrom homeworld to see his family again, but it blows up in his face, causing Leatherhead to go into a fit of rage, in which he murders two members of the Foot Clan and vows revenge on Donatello and the Turtles. Leatherhead has appeared in almost every iteration of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" since then, both as an ally and a villain.
9 KING KOMODO
King Komodo is a mutated Komodo dragon (the natural enemy of turtles) who first appeared in Image comics' "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" v3 #1 by writer Gary Carlson and artist Frank Fosco in 1996. He has the ability to control minds weaker than his own. In issue #17, he murders two children, which the turtles believe to be the work of Leatherhead gone completely feral. When Leonardo goes to investigate Leatherhead's lair, he finds him tied up by King Komodo.
In the ensuing battle, King Komodo bites off Leonardo's hand, causing him to pass out from the pain. When he comes to, Leonardo frees Leatherhead to help him in the fight, but King Komodo invades Leatherhead's mind and causes him to turn on Leonardo. Leo finally manages to cut off Leatherhead's oxygen while they fight underwater, only to resurface with King Komodo's rifle pointed in his face. If not for Michaelangelo and Casey Jones' timely arrival at that moment, it would have been the end for the leader of the Turtles.
8 AGENT JOHN BISHOP
Agent John Bishop first appeared as an enemy to the Turtles in the 2003 animated series, but he returned for the 2012 series, and for a three-issue arc in IDW's "TMNT" #53-55. He's cold, cunning and manipulative, doing nearly anything to achieve his goals, and he has a nearly endless supply of high-tech government weapons at his disposal. Bishop began as a soldier in the early 1800s before he was abducted and experimented on by gray aliens, which gave him his ageless longevity, enhanced strength and superhuman healing factor.
He returned to Earth with an extreme paranoia about alien invasion and dedicated his long life to preventing the Earth from being invaded. He went on to become a special agent of the United States Government and head of the Earth Protection Force, a black ops team he formed to protect the planet against alien threats. He initially believed the Ninja Turtles to be aliens, which is why he spends most of his time fighting against them.
7 HUN AND THE PURPLE DRAGONS
Hun began his criminal career in his teen years when he joined the Purple Dragons gang. At one point, he and some of the other Purple Dragons burned down a mechanic's shop that happened to be owned by Casey Jones' father, who was killed in the fire. From that incident, Casey developed a lifelong vendetta against Hun and the Purple Dragons gang. Hun continued with the Purple Dragons, rising through the ranks, and eventually became their leader.
Hun was originally created for the 2003 animated series, but the Purple Dragons have been around since the very first issue of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. They've appeared in nearly every version of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," however, they're often not mentioned by name. In the 1990 live-action film, the concept was combined with the Foot Clan, turning the Foot into more of a street gang than a ninja clan.
6 THE TRICERATONS
The Triceratons are a super strong and aggressive alien race that resemble and may be genetically linked to the Triceratops dinosaurs of Earth. After their original home planet was destroyed, they became nomadic, making their homes on asteroids, which they also use as training grounds for combat and military training. In addition to being a hyper-militarized race, they have highly advanced weapons and technology. Their ultimate goal as a species is to take over the universe, including Earth.
The Triceratons have appeared in almost all the iterations of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" media, except for the films, and are always attempting to take over the Earth before the Turtles inevitably put a stop to their plans. They also have agents that have been known to take a drug known as "Xemorene," which increases their strength, speed and nervous system, but it's extremely addictive and can sometimes lead to heart failure and death.
5 LORD DREGG
Lord Dregg was an alien warlord who was introduced as the main villain of the 1987 animated series after the Ninja Turtles banished Shredder and Krang to Dimension X. Like many of the Turtles' enemies, his ultimate goal is to conquer the universe, leading an army of bug-like alien men called the TechnoGang. He returned in the 2012 series as an insectoid crime lord who considers himself the lord of all insect life in the universe.
Lord Vringath Dregg is an arrogant and easily angered creature who appears as a large purple winged insectoid. He has razor-sharp claws on detachable hands, a scorpion tail with pincers on the end, four eyes and an extremely muscular build, so he can physically overpower any adversary he encounters quite easily. He also has a telepathic bond with his army of Vreen drones, with which he can command armies to do his nefarious bidding.
Kitsune is one of the few of the Turtles' enemies who has only appeared in the comics, and she's a relatively recent addition to the list. However, her hand in the Foot Clan's rise to prominence and her dangerous powers, make her one of the deadliest. Kitsune is a Japanese witch who has been alive since the era of Feudal Japan and was the very first leader of the Foot Clan. She has the ability to shapeshift, control minds and use powerful dark magic.
In IDW's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #23, written by Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman, and illustrated by Mateus Santolouco, Kitsune uses her mind control ability to manipulate Leonardo into believing that Splinter abandoned him and that the Shredder was his true mentor and master. When the Turtles come to rescue him, Leonardo attacks Splinter, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello all at once, and because they're holding back, he defeats them.
Karai is one of the Turtles' greatest enemies and a high-ranking member of the Foot Clan, often their leader. In the 2003 and 2012 animated series, she is the daughter of Homato Yoshi, The Shredder. However, her original incarnation in Mirage's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" by Eastman and Laird, she was unrelated and actually a higher-ranking member of the Foot Clan than Shredder himself.
In fact, in the original Mirage comic book, and later in the 2003 animated series, Karai becomes the new Shredder after Oroku Saki is killed. In the 2003 animated series, in addition to her ninjitsu combat skills, she goes through a snake mutation, giving her retractable fangs, venom spit, enhanced strength and the ability to shapeshift her limbs into snakes. She forms a brief love interest with Leonardo and alliance with the Turtles, but after her mutation, which makes her vicious and predatory, she believes she has become too dangerous and tries to avoid them.
2 SHREDDER AND THE FOOT CLAN
Oroku Saki, better known as The Shredder, is the oldest and greatest nemesis of the Turtles. He first appeared in the very first issue of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird alongside the turtles. Shredder is the leader of the ninja clan known as the Foot, and the man who murdered Splinter's master. Shredder is most often depicted as the leader of the Foot Clan, and they carry out his commands without question. This typically makes it easy for Shredder to set up elaborate traps for the Turtles and Splinter to fall into, or to invade their sanctuary in an attempt to destroy them.
He is usually depicted as the arch nemesis of Splinter and the turtles in nearly every incarnation the team has appeared in, but according to Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, they never intended him to be a long-running arch villain. In fact, in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #19, Leonardo decapitates the Shredder in a one-on-one battle and they burn his body at the Hudson River, never to be seen again.
Krang debuted in the 1987 animated series that turned the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into a household name, but he's gone on to appear as an antagonist in dozens of comics, video games, other shows and even 2016's live-action "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows." In the 1987 series, he appears as a disembodied brain of an evil alien warlord from Dimension X who lives in the torso of a human-shaped exo-suit that Shredder created for him (or the corpse of one of his fallen foes, depending on which origin you're going with).
The arms of Krang's android exo-suit have the ability to shapeshift into a variety of weapons and communications devices, and are also extremely strong. Even without the android suit, though, Krang is a technological genius who is capable of designing weapons, ships or portals to other dimensions. He's also shown to have the ability to control minds in the final season of the 1987 cartoon. His ultimate goal is to become the lord and master of all dimensions, including the Earth, but the Turtles are always there to shell out the hits and put a stop to him.
Who is your favorite TMNT villain? Let us know in the comments!