Comic book characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in 1983. The fictional quartet, otherwise known as the Ninja Turtles, first appeared in the self-published book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, in May 1984, by the (at the time) non-existent Mirage Studios (2). After a deal was struck with Surge Licensing Inc., the mutant brothers Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo (originally written as Michaelangelo) quickly became household names when they appeared in their own cartoon series, starting in December 1987. Its beloved theme tune was written by Chuck Lorre and Dennis Brown (4).
The black and white independently published comic book heroes in a half shell became a worldwide phenomenon by the end of the decade, selling billions of dollars worth of toys and merchandising in the process. The fearsome fighting team was introduced to the silver screen by 1990, in a film that spawned the only hit single of rap group Partners In Kryme. Several more movies, animated shows, and a live-action series followed, with toys being sold in huge quantities until the present day, proving the longevity of the franchise. The Ninja Turtles have been voiced various times, by different talents around the globe, and the most notable records credited to their name are the releases from the infamous (and often ridiculed) Coming Out Of Their Shells Tour musical show from the early 1990s.
While known throughout much of the world as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, commonly abbreviated as TMNT, these radical reptiles haven been translated, and sometimes rebranded, in different regions. Most of Europe got to know them as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, as the word ninja was deemed too aggressive by British and German censors alike (even going as far as removing some of the violence from the cartoons and movies). Some of the translations for the TMNT brand include Tortugas Ninja (in Spain, and most of Latin America), Tartarugas Ninja (in Portugal and Brazil), Tortues Ninja (in France), ティーンエイジ・ミュータント・ニンジャ・タートルズ (in Japan), Черепашки-ниндзя (in Russia), and 忍者龜 (in China).
As of 2009, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is owned by Nickelodeon, a division of Viacom International Inc..