IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series has been a radical fusion of some of the most iconic elements of the beloved franchise. It also has inspired new twists on the formula. Many of these twists put the Hamato Clan into dangerous and dark moments that test familial bonds. This is CBR's list of the 10 worst things to ever happen to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the IDW comics.
10 The Turtles Are Separated
Readers were shocked at the very beginning of the IDW run to discover that Raphael was separated from his brothers even before his mutation. The young turtle found himself cared for by a homeless man named Buck who was tragically murdered before Raphael's eyes. Raphael, the lone wolf of the group in any incarnation, lived as a homeless turtle on the streets with no memory of his mutation and his family. The lost brother would finally begin to gain his identity when he saves Casey Jones from a beating by his father (TMNT #1 & #2).
Raphael would eventually be caught up in a fight between the forces of Old Hob, a mutated alley cat, and Splinter and the remaining three turtles. The brothers would reunite and Raphael would begin training with them. Raphael's time alone, however, left a chip on his shoulder.
9 Casey Jones Is Nearly Murdered By Hun
Casey Jones' father Arnold was always abusive to young Casey, but the revelation that Arnold was formerly Hun of the Purple Dragons escalated the pain and misery that was inflicted on poor Casey, the unofficial fifth Turtle. The "City Fall" arc of the series, issues #22 to #28 are not kind to Casey Jones who is hospitalized for a time and culminates with a newly mutagen-powered Arnold Jones having sided the Purple Dragons with the Foot Clan. "Hun" tries to get a still-recovering Casey to join with the Dragons, but Casey refuses, resulting in a no-holds-barred beatdown that Casey barely survives with the aid of Angel.
8 Leonardo Becomes Shredder's Chūnin
Again, the "City Fall" arc is a real test of the Hamato Clan as Leonardo, who became separated from his brothers in issue #22 is brainwashed to serve Shredder and the Foot Clan. Leonardo's memories are magically altered by Kitsune, even going as far as to implant a memory of Splinter killing his brothers.
This culminates with a darker, edgier Leonardo at the end of the issue taking on The Shredder as his new master, as Shredder's chūnin, a high-ranking soldier. Throughout the remainder of "City Fall," Leonardo becomes a thorn in the side of the Hamato Clan until the memory alterations fade. However, Leonardo will continue to be shaken by the forced betrayal of his clan throughout the series.
7 Donatello Confronts His Mirror A.I.
The smartest of the turtles is no stranger to tragedy. Donatello at one point transferred his consciousness to the robotic turtle Metalhead after a deadly beatdown from Bebop and Rocksteady. Eventually, Donatello was able to return to a fresh, new body, but Donatello's consciousness lingered on in the A.I. of the robot, resulting in what Michaelangelo dubs "Metal-Don." Metal-Don has all of Donatello's emotions, memories, and the phantom pain of the beatdown and reacts violently to seeing a second, organic self.
This culminates in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #8 where Metal-Don removes the "virus" of the lingering traces of Donatello in it's A.I., essentially killing him, and fully becoming Metalhead. Donatello struggles with depression afterward.
6 Splinter Takes Over The Foot Clan
The culmination of the animosity between Oroku Saki and Hamato Yoshi plays out among the rooftops of New York City during the "Vengeance" arc of the main Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. Issue #50 finds Splinter and Shredder locked in combat until Splinter can deliver the fatal blow on his eternal enemy. Even more intense, Splinter aids Shredder in the act of seppuku, beheading the leader of the Foot Clan during the suicide ritual. The turtles all handle this moment with a general sense of shock, but Michelangelo is particularly traumatized.
However, that is nothing compared to the moment where Karai offers Splinter control of The Foot Klan, which he accepts. Michelangelo is rattled and leaves the family for a time.
5 The Turtles Learn Of Their Past Lives
Learning that they are the reincarnations of the Feudal Japanese children of Hamato Yoshi and Tang Shen affects the turtles differently. The key division is between a far more spiritual Leonardo and a more scientifically-grounded Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #10. Leonardo, who readily accepts the circumstances of Splinter's disappearance as part of a centuries-old struggle, is quickly rebuffed by Donatello, who claims it all to be paranormal nonsense. Over the course of the series, the Turtles will learn more about their past lives and even travel in time to see their former lives in the "Turtles in Time" arc. What a perception-altering encounter!
4 Splinter Has Darius Dun Executed
Criminal mastermind Darius Dun utilized his Street Phantom gang to take over the criminal underworld of New York City for months following the defeat of Shredder at Splinter's hand. The Phantoms first begin appearing in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #51. By issue #64 however, Dun is captured by Splinter's Foot Clan. Splinter demands Dun surrender his criminal assets to the Foot Clan but he refuses. Splinter then orders Jennika, his acting chūnin, to kill Dun. This prompts Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael to finally abandon the reformed Foot Clan and their father, Splinter.
Don't worry, though, Darius Dun returns in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters crossover as a ghost.
3 Splinter Fights With Michelangelo
After the Turtles defeat Rat King, whose sinister influence takes over the minds of orphaned children in New York City, the Turtles must decide what is to be done about all of the children. In issue #84's epilogue, the Turtles arrive at the Foot Clan's compound and ask Splinter to care for the children. However, the children are to be trained as Foot Ninja, which Michelangelo firmly rejects. Tensions exploded in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Macro-Series #2 as Michelangelo stands up to Splinter and the pair engage in a brutal fight that leaves both shaken. Splinter, saving face through a lie, retroactively suggests the agreement of the orphans being in the care of the Foot Clan was purely materialistic, and that the Hamato Clan alone would train the children in ninjitsu.
2 Slash The Nuclear Weapon
The showdown between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Earth Protection Force culminates in the tragic death of Slash during the "Battle Lines" story arc of issues #86 through #88. The E.P.F. invasion of the former stronghold of Krang, the Utrom, is revealed to be a ruse to gather mutant and extraterrestrial forces on the island to eliminate them in one attack through a surgically implanted bomb in Slash. The Mutanimals, Triceratons, Ch'rell's forces, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles watch Slash fly out to the Atlantic ocean to hurl himself from a plane to detonate at a safe distance in a moment of sacrifice.
1 Donatello (Nearly) Dies
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #44 contains the most shocking event in the run of the comics, and possibly in all Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle continuities with the brutal beating of Donatello that results in his apparent death at the hands of Bebop and Rocksteady. Having successfully worked with Leonardo to turn Shredder's forces against Krang's on Burnow Island, their ruse is uncovered and Shredder orders Donatello to be killed. At first, the death of Donatello appears to be a very real, tragic moment, until Harold Lillja and Professor Honeycutt, having detected a weak pulse, manage to transfer Donatello's soul into the Metalhead robot. Donatello's apparent death, traumatic rebirth, and transformation truly rocked the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.