‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:’ The Original 1980s Animated Turtles Are Returning!

Many franchises come and go, but very few stand the true test of time; a crossover from generation to generation, which can span years or decades. Many get lost in translation, and some just burn out, their short time frame expired. On the flip side of this, some franchises are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago, and they still find a rabid audience due to their popularity. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is certainly one of them.

The brainchild of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the Turtles made their comic book debut in 1984. However, it’s on the small screen where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became a revelation and a culture shock to millions. The heroes in a half shell have undergone many transformations since the ’80s and still exist on children’s television and in cinemas today, but nostalgia often comes a calling, and people who remember the ’80s incarnation fondly will always compare the contemporary versions to the original. Well, fans of the original now have a reason to celebrate, because the 1980s animated Turtles, the most iconic of all the iterations over the years, are returning to the small screen!

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' The Original 1980s Animated Turtles Are Returning!2
'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' has enjoyed a resurgence of late. The 2014 film made over $400 million, and a sequel is coming in the summer. [Image via

According to Cinema Blend, the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon will return for an upcoming crossover event with Nickelodeon’s current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Fans will see the return of Cam Clarke (Leonardo), Barry Gordon (Donatello), and Townsend Coleman (Michelangelo), who will once again voice their iconic characters as they meet their modern-day counterparts, voiced by Seth Green, Sean Astin, and Greg Cipes. They will be joined by the only consistent, veteran voice actor, Rob Paulsen, who voiced Raphael in the ’80s and voices Donatello in the modern version. He will pull double duty for the special episode.

The plot is a simple one; the ’80s Turtles will travel to the modern day, three-dimensional version of the TMNT universe in order to join forces and take down multiple versions of iconic villain Krang. Not many details exist apart from that, but older fans can expect to be swiftly whisked back to their childhood. So far, so nostalgic! The episode, titled “Trans-Dimensional Turtles,” will convert the adored ’80s characters into 3D models and have them meet up with the current iterations of the heroes in a half shell. Let the shenanigans commence! A clip has been released by IGN, and can be viewed here.

This crossover moment marks a major event in the history of the characters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. It’s the first time the two versions have been combined in one episode, and it should unite adults and children alike — past and present fans. It’s also the first time the ’80s characters have been on the small screen for decades, DVD reruns aside. The interdimensional travel trope has been used a lot in modern culture, and is a fantastic way to interconnect old and new characters of the same, long-term franchises. A more recent usage of this happened in the crossover between The Flash and Supergirl, and it was even taken advantage of to haphazardly reboot the Terminator movies.

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' The Original 1980s Animated Turtles Are Returning!2
The 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' made their debut in 1984, as part of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's comic book. [Image via Mirage Studios]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has enjoyed a successful resurgence of late. Despite three popular films being released between 1990 and 1993, the franchise waned a little on the cinematic front for years. A reboot was announced in 2009, and in 2014, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released. Despite mixed reviews, the film earned $493.3 million at the box office, and a sequel was quickly greenlit. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows will be released on June 3.

Despite some criticism, the 2014 film perfectly combined both iterations of the Turtles into one movie — a host of generations enjoyed the film in some capacity. Whether this was the reason for the return of the ’80s cartoon characters remains to be seen, but one thing is clear; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is still as popular as it ever was. Cowabunga!

Trans-Dimensional Turtles will air Sunday, March 27 at 11:00 a.m. EST on Nickelodeon.

[Image via CBS Television Distribution]