Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael, are 4 names that belong to great painters of the Renaissance era, but we all associate them with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those characters have given us so much joy over the years.

They have gone through practically all the existing media, from comics to video games, cartoons to movies, and it doesn’t look like they are going to slow down any time soon.

But through all the generations we have known them, their age appears to vary a bit. So

How Old Are The Ninja Turtles?

In most iterations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles they are between 15 years and 17 years of age. With some portraying them as old as their early 20s.

The change in age varies greatly, and their age at the time is often reflective of the target audience of the production. So while there is a “range” the question of how old the Ninja Turtles are does not have a definitive answer so let’s discuss how this works out.

The TMNT are in their early teens

The Origin Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

“Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”, the first comic book of these characters released in 1984, was published in black and white. Its cover and part of the plot were inspired by the comic “Ronin” by the famous Frank Miller and Marvel’s Daredevil character.

In this story, we saw for the first time the origin of the turtles, who got their humanoid bodies and powers from a radioactive spill, just like the famous blind lawyer.

So, the Ninja Turtles have been with us for almost 40 years, but that by no means means means they are that age. At least in their first comic, it was made pretty clear that they were teenagers, but their true ages were never revealed, although it is believed that they were 15 years old.

Beyond that, Leonardo, the leader, has always been the older brother, though it does not appear to be much of an age difference.

Adaptations To Other Media

It was when the team made the leap from comic books to the TV series that the characters were given a specific age. In the animated series released in the late 1980’s, the turtles were between 15 and 17 years old.

Then, in the 2003 animated series produced by Mirage Studios and 4Kids Entertainment, the turtles were aged up a bit, being between 19 and 21 years old.

Although in the 2012 Nickelodeon animation, they went back to being teenagers between 15 and 17 years old. On the other hand, in the 2014 live-action movie, they were adapted as 21 years old, a little more mature.

The latest animated series of these characters, 2018’s Rise of the TMNT, makes a slight change, with Raphael as the oldest at 15, Leonardo and Donatello at 14, and Michelangelo at 13. And it’s looking pretty good that the upcoming Mutant Mayhem film will adapt them as teenagers at the beginning of that stage.

As you can see, each adaptation alters the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles age to make it more convenient to its story, depending on whether it is more childlike or mature in tone.

Which Ninja Turtle Is The Oldest?

If there is one thing that all the adaptations have agreed on, it is that their leader, Leonardo is the oldest of the Ninja Turtles. 

Speaking of his leadership, many times his second in command, Raphael, argues with him for that position, so he is probably the second oldest after Leonardo.

Next is Donatello, the smartest of the group and a technological genius. Finally, the youngest brother is Michelangelo, and boy, does his joking and fun personality show it.

So from oldest to youngest the order is Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo.

Final Thoughts On Their Age

Despite all the differences every time we see the name Ninja Turtles pop-up, we can be sure that in their first comics, the Turtles were 15 years old, and in most animated series and video games they range between 13-17 years old. Basically, they cover the whole of adolescence.

There have indeed been other media such as live-action movies or certain series and comics that place them between 20-23 years old, to tell a more mature storyline and for a more adult audience (and still called them “teenage”). And these characters, although known for their fun tone, have starred in more than one dark story.

So far The Ninja Turtles have not been younger than 15 and no older than 23. Although those are really their mental ages if we convert that to human years they are closer to 80 years old or more!