Since their creation in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the Ninja Turtles have dominated both comic books and screens with incredible action stories and many rather twisted villains, but there’s nothing these four brothers can’t overcome together.
While we’ve all enjoyed their multiple adaptations, there is one question that still lingers in the minds of many fans.
Why Are The Ninja Turtles Named After Renaissance Artists?
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are named after Renaissance artists to make them more appealing to Western audiences. Eastman and Laird originally wanted to give them ancient Japanese names.
How The TMNT Got Their Italian Renaissance Names In Canon
We have to go back to the origins to explain how these cartoon characters were named. When Master Splinter barely escaped Shredder’s wrath and ran into 4 baby turtles with whom he suffered a radioactive spill that turned them into the ninja masters we know today.
Adopting the turtles, Splinter manages to give them names thanks to a dilapidated Italian book on Renaissance art he found in the sewers. After that, they were ready to learn ninjutsu.
Leonardo, the leader of the group, wears a blue bandana and his weapon is the Katana. His name comes from the famous Leonardo da Vinci, a talented painter from the city of Florence, and an anatomist, architect, artist, botanist, scientist, writer, sculptor, philosopher, engineer, inventor, musician, poet, and urban planner. Most famously known for painting the Mona Lisa, he was a man way ahead of his time.
Then we have Raphael, the muscle of the group and a rather misunderstood one because of his anger issues. His bandana is red and his weapons are two Sais. He is named after the painter Raffaello Sanzio, a painter and architect of the High Renaissance, he made important contributions in architecture and as an inspector of antiquities.
The mastermind of the team is Donatello, with a purple bandana and the Bo as a weapon. His name comes from the artist Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, an artist, and a renowned sculptor capable of capturing depth and relief monumentally. As a curious fact, this tortoise was first named Bernini in honor of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the creator of the baroque sculptural style, but Eastman and Laird renamed it Donatello because it sounds better.
Finally, the laughs are provided by Michelangelo, the creator of the famous “Cowabunga!” battle cry. Represented with the color orange and by the Nunchakus, his name honors Michelangelo Buonarroti, a painter, sculptor, and architect considered one of the most influential in history.
Let’s also not forget about the Master Splinter character, whose name refers to Giovanni di Ser Giovanni, an artist, goldsmith, physician, and cabinetmaker better known as “Scheggia”, which translates in English as Splinter.
And so, we have our beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles named after four Renaissance artists who are far from creating works of art, but they make sure that the streets of New York are clean from crime.