A TMNT Newbie Ranks Shredder’s Revenge Characters Based on the Vibes

Mutant turtles? Pizza? A giant rat? I try to make sense of it all.

Before I was born, my brother tried to persuade my parents to name me Raphael. Thankfully, the name didn’t stick. But perhaps it played a part in my overall apathy towards Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles as we called them in the UK). Though there were hand-me-down toys and on more than one occasion I was dumped in front of the TV show and told to shut up, the series never influenced me as it did my brother.

Perhaps he was excited about the release of Shredder’s Revenge, but I was mostly confused. I don’t recall there being dinosaurs. Why is the Statue of Liberty beating me up? These are the questions burning my journalistic brain as I quietly judge these characters with whom I have no relationship.

So, let’s explore that. How do I rank the characters of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (from worst to best) based solely on Shredder’s Revenge and my very warped memory? As we go, try not to think about the fact that reptiles cannot digest milk.

Lucky they already live in a sewer, right?

Okay – it’s pizza time!


Look up “basic bitch” in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Leonardo. Back when we all thought swords were cool, we probably believed Leonardo was the best turtle. But we also loved playing with cardboard with Pokémon printed on it. Children are stupid.

In 2022, Leonardo is the kind of guy who runs a YouTube channel in which he plays with swords in the back garden, with a side-channel reacting to anime. Even the game thinks he’s lame. He’s the beginner character, and pretty vanilla; average at everything and good at nothing. He’s Mario, and who plays as Mario when there are other options?!

Somehow, he’s the leader of the group. But I have issues with authority, so that means nothing to me. He’s just a big nerd.

Casey Jones

I’m at a loss. As far as I can tell, this is an adult man in a hockey mask. Not sure he existed when I saw the show, but he certainly doesn’t exist in this game until he suddenly materializes in an end-game scene eating pizza with the gang. Did you earn that pizza, Casey?

Dude carries his “weapons” in a golf bag. GOLF! I bet he and Leonardo have a tee time this weekend. Casey is one of those guys who goes to the gym, changes into a tiny vest, and pesters people all day. Perhaps I’m biased because the only time I’ve visited a gym was to change into a Santa Claus costume, but his whole vibe rubs me the wrong way.

He doesn’t even go here!


Look, I’d be angry too if I was enjoying the sights and sounds of New York’s sewers and some random goo turned me into an unlovable monster. But Raphael takes bitterness to a whole new level. Sarcasm, arrogance, and a constant need to detach from the group. Maybe that red mask is actually a red flag?

Raphael has some serious unresolved rage and I don’t think stabbing hundreds of ninjas with twin sais is going to help. Less a fighter than an ongoing tantrum. Well, it’s been thirty-five years, Raphael, we’re adults now – learn some social skills and go to therapy.


He’s a rat. Just a big rat in a bathrobe. Let that sink in as you consider where Leonardo and Raphael are placed. I prefer a disease carrying vermin who never washes to two core members of the team. I do, however, think we need to have a conversation about proper sanitation, given so many animals are turning up mutated in New York’s sewers.

But that’s harsh. He feels useless, but that ninja might succumb to hantavirus in a week. That’s more than Leonardo can do. But Splinter offers one thing: family. [VinDieselFamily.gif]. He’s a father figure to these goofy testudos, and that’s nice, right? A cute little narrative of found (mutant) family.

But he’s still a rat.


Enough thuggery. Donatello is the smart one. Well, as smart as a turtle can be after a Google search tells me their brains are rarely bigger than a gram. He’s considered. Not rash like Raphael or boring like Leonardo, but tactical. He controls the room with his big bō staff.

Donatello’s the nerd who had a hard time in school, but instead of becoming a weird tech bro, he got hot and interesting instead. He might not be as strong as the others but who needs strength when no one can get close enough to hit you?

All in all, Donatello just seems like a solid dude. The kind of guy who gives you the last slice of pizza. I bet he gives good hugs.

Let’s get real, we all know what that staff is for. Sure, it keeps the Foot away – but is that all you’re pushing away, Donatello? Maybe it’s time to let us in.


You’d think, as I wend my way to my final evolution into Shaw Moore from Footloose, the carefree surfer vibe Michelangelo gives off would start to grate. But you know what? I’m more Michelangelo now than I’ve ever been. It might be the chronic fatigue, but I want nothing more than to kick back, eat pizza, and wear cute summer colors. It’s not a change of which I ‌approve, but it’s happening and I’m embracing it.

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Michelangelo is the kind of guy who doesn’t prepare but pulls it off anyway. If you don’t prepare, you never really fail, right? Plus, nunchaku are much cooler than swords — Bruce Lee said so. If Leonardo is the nerd down the road who injures himself in front of his 30 subscribers with an ill-gotten katana, Michelangelo is turning up to a party with pizza and a story about how he’s friends with Keanu Reeves.

April O’Neil

Sometimes, I worry about the kind of journalist I want to be when I grow up. Do I want to write thoughtful deep-dives, do more journalistic work, write listicles about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Or maybe I want to be April O’Neil. Where some journalists would expose the Foot through the power of the media and public perception, April investigates with her fists. She doesn’t need swords, big sticks, or a threat of leptospirosis. Need a ninja’s face smashed in? A deadly combination of Wing Chun and this microphone will do it. Need some robots dismantled? Take thousands of dollars’ worth of camera equipment and have at it.

And she does it all while rocking a wicked yellow jumpsuit that, though garish in the 90s, is chic as heck right now. She is au courant; she’s so happening, man. But never mind her fashion sense, we’ve got some breaking news: your face. She’s breaking your face and dropping the mic while doing it.

Now that is journalism.