The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are an enduring part of America’s national culture, with roots reaching back to the mid-80s. The very first comics were published by a pair of 20-somethings with a very strange idea, one that became a titanic media franchise. In the decades since, the weapon-wielding, backflipping turtles at the core of those long-ago comics continue to dominate on the big and small screen.
In total, Leonardo, Rafael, Donatello, and Michaelangelo have appeared in more than a dozen different films and television series. Many of these persist as nostalgic staples for the audiences that grew up on them, and thus a concrete “favorite” can be hard to pin down. Viewers who grew up in the 80s are likely to prefer the OG team of cheesy crime fighters, but more modern audiences probably veer toward contemporary takes on the crowd-favorite characters.
All of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shows and films, ranked
We are but a small portion of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fandom, and thus cannot speak for everyone. With this in mind, the below ranking of every TMNT movie and TV show will be based on a pair of popular review aggregation sites, as well as our own opinions. Based on reviews from both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic — with the occasional dip into IMDb’s rankings — here are the internet’s favorite TMNT releases, from worst to best.
The first few films on this list have extremely bare rankings online. Most of them are completely absent from typical review sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, leaving us to rely on their IMDb ratings for our list. Their lack of a widespread audience response seems to be telling, so we’ll be factoring that into our final scores.
15) Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (1997 – 1998)
At the very bottom of our list, we have a short-lived live-action Turtles release from the mid 90s. The series initially tried to attach itself to its longstanding — and enduringly popular — predecessor, but in fact took place in its own continuity, with its own spin on the characters, villains, and even weapons. It’s hardly discussed online, with no trace of the series on either Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic, but the show does have a sightly embarrassing 4.2/10 on IMDb. Its lack of mainstream popularity means this particular entry can be difficult to track down online, but the brief series can be purchased from Amazon Prime.
14) Mutant Turtles: Legend of the Supermutants (1996)
Boasting a similarly bare online presence to The Next Mutation, this confusingly named two-part animated series barely inches its way into the second-to-bottom spot. Online, you’ll find this selection under both the above name and Mutant Turtles: Superman Legend. The issues with translation probably have to do with the show’s origin in Japan, and likely contribute to its general lack of an online following. Still, it manages to come out more than a full IMDb score point above The Next Mutation, with a rating of 5.6/10 on the platform. It’s even harder to track down, unfortunately, with no streaming options currently available.
13) Half-Shell Heroes: Blast To The Past (2015)
One of the franchise’s rare animated specials, Blast to the Past is very specifically aimed at its target audience: kids. While this leeches some of the nostalgic potential from the televised special, it doesn’t make it any less fitting for the new generation of kids it’s supposed to entertain. The special switches things up, removing the Turtles from their typical New York haunt to instead cause chaos in the Cretaceous period. Like several of its lesser-known peers, the special has no presence at all on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic, so we’re leaning hard on its IMDb score of 6.7/10. The charming 45-minute special can be purchased for a low price from Amazon Prime.
12) Turtles Forever (2009)
If only for its fun spin on the typical Turtles fare, this 2009 release is worth a watch for any TMNT fan. The film lacks a presence on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but cinches a solid 7.6/10 on IMDb. This is likely a reflection of its fun and well-targeted storyline, which sees three different incarnations of the Turtles team up to defeat a series of Shredders, all from different timelines. The film is classic TMNT, but was generally criticized for its extremely dated delivery, and its lack of appreciation for the OG Turtles who made the team into a franchise. Still, it’s very much worth a watch for fans of any iteration of the Turtles, and can be rented or purchased from Amazon Prime.
11) TMNT (2007)
This slightly jarring computer animated release saw the introduction of yet another version of the four-part turtle team. Despite boasting a truly impressive voice cast with the likes of Chris Evans, Patrick Stewart, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, the film is generally considered an uninspired entry into the broad Turtle canon. This is reflected by its rather abysmal 34 percent Tomatometer score, as well as its 41 on Metacritic. The film was largely criticized for its lack of wit and charm, as well as its rather dull story. Still, fans looking to enjoy the fourth theatrical TMNT release can stream it with an HBO Max subscription, or rent it from Amazon Prime.
10) Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2018 – ?)
While Nickelodeon’s most recent TMNT series lacks a Tomatometer or Metacritic score, it does at least boast an average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. On the site, it has a 75 percent average audience score, a far cry from the entirely absent scores of several of its peers. The score isn’t quite enough to overshadow the show’s 4.9 on IMDb, nor reviews that label it as a “trainwreck,” with criticism taking aim at everything from its art design and characters to the voice actors behind the beloved characters (no shade to Ben Schwartz, maybe he’s just not suited to turtle life). Viewers who’d enjoy comparing the series to its far more enjoyable predecessor can stream the first season of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Netflix, with later seasons on Paramount Plus. The upcoming Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film will also be viewable on Netflix starting in early August 2022.
9) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
The first of Michael Bay’s live-action TMNT releases is somehow worse than its successor, but packs just enough action and humor into its runtime to keep its head above water. The film has an utterly abysmal 21 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, where reviewers say it somehow managed to miss both the mark of being “good” and that of being enjoyably awful, instead falling in the unwatchable category of “the dullest movie ever made about talking bipedal reptiles.” Ouch. People on Metacritic appear to agree, despite a slightly higher score on the platform. It’s earned “generally unfavorable reviews” from Metacritic, where the 2014 live-action release earned a score of 31. It’s currently streamable with a Paramount Plus subscription.
8) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 – 2009)
If audience reviews are anything to go by, the mid-2000s TMNT series is one of the best. This series, like many of its lower-rated peers, has a bare presence on review aggregation sites, but its single Metacritic review is glowing, and its lack of a Tomatometer score is softened by a stellar audience rating of 93 percent. This is aided by a solid 7.8/10 IMDb score, and bolstered by reviews dubbing the seven-season reboot “the one to beat.” Viewers can stream the series with a Paramount Plus subscription, and if you can’t get enough of the 2000s run of Turtles, you can enjoy their return in the largely-derided Turtles Forever.
7) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)
The third of the live-action Turtles films that defined the early 90s was by far the worst. It was roundly dragged by critics upon its release, many of whom lambasted the film for its overly dense and complicated plot. The film was also criticized for removing the Turtles from their home in the New York City sewers, instead transporting them back in time to feudal Japan. This massive shake-up could have worked well in the right hands, but critics and audiences seem to agree that these were not the right hands. The film has a painfully low 19 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — where critics call the film out for its “tired time-travel plot gimmick,” — and a far more reasonable 40 on Metacritic. Despite the higher score, however, reviewers seem to agree that this film is by far the worst of the original trilogy. It can be enjoyed — probably with plenty of boozy drinks — with a subscription to HBO Max, or it can be rented from Amazon Prime.
6) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)
The second-worst thing to happen to America in 2016, the second Michael Bay-directed TMNT film somehow surpasses its predecessor in popularity. The live-action release still boasts lukewarm reviews — at best — but many audiences felt it was far truer to the franchise than Bay’s first Turtles release. This has earned it a 41 on Metacritic — where reviewers praise its improved “pacing” and “goofball humor,” but criticized its “boring villain” — and a 37 percent Tomatometer score. It has similar reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, where audiences critique the film for lacking “the wit or anarchic energy of the comics that birthed the franchise.” Viewers can stream the film with a subscription to Amazon Prime or Paramount Plus.
5) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
Dipping back into the early 90s live-action flicks, the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles received far higher marks than its successor. Critics have plenty to say about the “slogging” nature of the 1991 sequel, with many labeling it as merely a remake of the original, but audiences seem to largely disagree. Secret of the Ooze has a 45 Metascore, but audiences rated it higher at 6.7. There’s a similar dichotomy on Rotten Tomatoes, where the film has a 35 percent on the Tomatometer, but a much higher 67 percent among audiences. Even with its higher popularity among audiences, however, the second Henson-headed Turtles flick is largely considered a stale and less interesting take on the OG product. Stream the title with a subscription to HBO Max or rent it from Amazon Prime.
4) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
The first live-action TMNT film is considered one of the very best. The Turtles as we know them in pop culture are largely based on the Jim Henson Company-created animatronic, clunky-but-loveable characters that debuted in this 1990 film. It’s iconic, and for good reason — the film balanced nostalgia for the original series with updated filming styles and costuming to create something few audiences had seen in 1990. Despite its clear age, modern audiences will also enjoy reminiscing about the early 90s — even if they weren’t alive during the decade. Audiences are fond of this film, with solid scores of 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.9 on Metacritic, but critics don’t quite agree. The film comes in much lower among the pros, who give it a 51 on Metacritic, and a 41 percent Tomatometer ranking. Ignore the naysayers — its a delight to behold, and can be streamed on HBO Max or rented from Amazon Prime.
3) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012 – 2017)
The mid 2010s take on the titular Turtles is one of the most popular among audiences. Reviews for Nickelodeon’s latest attempt — Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — display this clearly, as viewers criticize the reboot and pine for the far more enjoyable show that was lost. Yet another stellar cast helps to carry the series, with actors like Sean Astin, Hoon Lee, and Josh Peck lending their talent to the voice cast. Its bare presence on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic is nonetheless markedly positive, with an 83 percent audience score on the former, and “universal acclaim” on the latter. Pair this with the show’s 7.8/10 on IMDb, and you’ve got a recipe for a thoroughly bingeable series. The first season is currently streamable on Netflix, but later seasons will have to be purchased from Amazon Prime.
2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 – 1996)
The very first TMNT series managed to stay on the air for nearly a decade, even as other releases in the same franchise worked to steal some of its thunder. It lacks enough reviews to have a score on Metacritic, but the feedback its gotten grants the series a “generally favorable” ranking, regardless. The same can be said for Rotten Tomatoes, where the film doesn’t have a Tomatometer score, but does have an audience score of 92 percent. The series’ age and universal acclaim among its audience likely leads to this relatively bare online presence, but its role as the very first series, paired with its solid audience score and a 7.9/10 on IMDb, allows the maiden TMNT series to cinch the second place on our list. Viewers interested in rehashing the late 80s and early 90s series can rent it on Amazon Prime — but only in certain areas.
1) Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)
Despite its lack of a Metacritic rating, this film’s 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes makes it an easy winner. It appears to be the most universally-liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property out there, and we’re pretty sure we know why. The addition of Batman, Batgirl, and Robin into the mix lends a delightful distinction between this film and its peers, and the stellar voice cast it leans on — in particular the spectacularly talented Troy Baker, who’s voice crops up in The Last of Us franchise, Bioshock Infinite, and Infamous: Second Son — allows this release to easily rise above the rest. The film can be rented or purchased from Amazon Prime.