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Michelangelo (TMNT)

Michelangelo (or Mike or Mikey) is a fictional character, one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). His bandanna is typically portrayed as orange (although all four Turtles wear red bandannas in the comic series) and his weapons are two nunchakus, though he has also been portrayed using other weapons, such as a grappling hook, tonfa, and, in some fan art (such as the famous Joe Madureira's) a kusari-gama. Nunchaku are illegal in some countries, so they were edited out of some showings of the TV series in Europe. He is a natural athlete, and is considered the fastest turtle. Michelangelo is the most light-hearted and relaxed of the Turtles.

Like all of the brothers, he is named for a famous artist -- Michelangelo, painter of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Unlike the one for whom he was named, however, the spelling of the Turtle's name varies. It has been alternately shown as both Michelangelo and Michaelangelo.

More fun-loving than his brothers, he was given a much bigger role and was more popular in the 1987 cartoon series, directed at a younger audience, than in the more serious original comic books. He came to epitomize the late 1980's and early 1990's popular culture incarnation of the TMNT, coining most of their catch phrases; hence, he is possibly the most famous Turtle. Because of his more carefree nature, most seem to view Michelangelo as the youngest of the Ninja Turtles, although they are all actually roughly the same age.

Because Kevin Eastman's original "ninja turtle" concept drawing (1983) portrayed an unnamed turtle with nunchaku strapped to its arms, some consider Michelangelo to be the first Ninja Turtle created.


Michelangelo is consistently portrayed as the most lighted-hearted and friendly of the brothers. Upbeat and good-natured, Mikey prefers to spend his time looking at the better aspects of life. While his brothers wrestle with the implications of their mutation and their place in the world, Michelangelo enjoys relaxing in front of the TV, skateboarding throughout the maze-like sewers, reading comic books and eating lots of pizza. Mikey's innocent and childlike personality has led to him being dubbed the youngest brother by everyone around him, even though all four brothers are the same age. Because of his status as the "baby" of the family, Mikey's brothers, especially Raphael, assume an extremely protective watch over him whenever they're outside of the lair and habitually expect little of their youngest sibling during serious discussions. Unfortunately, these common beliefs have resulted in Michelangelo often being underestimated by those around him. Throughout the series, Mikey reveals an unparalleled level of perception to the feelings of those around him and, as a result, feels a very real and serious need to help those he believes are less fortunate than himself. Michelangelo despises confrontation and tries to avoid fighting with his brothers at all costs. Unlike his brothers, Mikey simply laughs off most insults that are thrown his way and prefers to take a more light-hearted approach to solving problems. The other Turtles often become frustrated with his constant need to downplay and joke around during a serious situation, and it is this attitude that causes most of the conflicts between Michelangelo and his brothers throughout the series. Because of Mikey's happy-go-lucky and goofball nature, he is often the main source of comic relief in the comics and shows, his brothers often suffering as the butt of his jokes.

Despite obvious personality differences, Michelangelo gets along well with his brothers for a majority of the series. He admires Leonardo for being the archetypical eldest brother, fearless leader, and strict practitioner of bushido and ninjitsu. Mikey views Leo almost as a parental figure and will often look to him for reassurance. Leonardo is the stable pillar in Mikey's life that is always silently watching and waiting, making sure that he is safe and cared for at all times. Michelangelo looks to the hot-tempered and aggressive Raphael for emotional support and protection. Although Raphael acts like a tough guy and a rebel without a cause, he cares deeply for Mikey and Mikey knows that Raphael will do everything in his power to protect him. However, of all his brothers, Michelangelo spends the most time with his genius brother, Donatello. Despite their vastly different interests and personalities, the two seem to get along the best of the brothers and rely heavily upon one another when Leonardo and Raphael have one of their infamous fights. Their closeness probably stems from their more passive personalities, which set them apart from the more authoritative Leonardo and confrontational Raphael, and makes them common sparring and video game partners. Although a well-trained ninja, Mikey is primarily a social being and lacks the discipline of Leonardo, the relentless ferocity of Raphael, and the quick mind of Donatello. However, Michelangelo more than makes up for these losses with the boundless energy, unorthodox fighting style, and fierce determination that he exhibits when he fights alongside his brothers. In several of the series, Michelangelo has also shown a strong creative side. In a side story in volume 2 of Tales of the TMNT, it was revealed that at an early age, Mikey was a talented artist. In the Image comics, Michelangelo became a published author.

Comic books


In the original comic books, Michelangelo was initially depicted as fun-loving, carefree, and, while not as aggressive as Raphael, always ready to fight. He is much more seriously natured than in the film incarnations, which have unfortunately labeled his character a permanent "dude" talking pre-teen. It was Michelangelo's one-shot in this series that fleshed out most of the traits that have become synonymous with the character, such as his playfulness, empathy, and easygoing nature. In the story, Michelangelo adopts a stray cat (which he names Klunk) and also stops thieves from stealing toys meant for orphaned children. After their defeat at the hands of the Foot Clan the Turtles, Splinter, April O'Neil, and Casey Jones retreat to a farm house in Northampton, Massachusetts which used to belong to Casey's grandmother. While there, April is worried to note that Michelangelo doesn't seem the same and that he rarely jokes. He spends his days in the barn taking out his aggression on a punching bag. A scene shows him lashing out at his surroundings and repeatedly punching the wall of the barn until it breaks, then collapsing on it despondently, anger spent. The end of the story implies that Michelangelo's sorrow and frustration have been resolved, as subsequent issues reunite Michelangelo with his more relaxed, optimistic personality. It is during this time at the farm we learn that Michelangelo also has an interest in comic books, specifically ones involving superheroes such as "The Justice Force" (comic book heroes based on The Justice League and The Fantastic Four). He also found solace in writing fiction and produced a story depicting himself a ronin in Feudal Japan. In the issue "City at War", Michelangelo instantly bonds with Casey Jones' adopted daughter Shadow who nicknames him "Rooish". In the second volume, the Turtles decide to try to live apart from one another. Michelangelo, social creature that he is, moves in with April and Casey's so he can be close to Shadow. Throughout the first two volumes Michelangelo seemed to act as the peacemaker of the team. These stories also laid the foundations which demonstrated his closeness with Donatello; their laid-back natures separating them from the more contentious Leonardo and Raphael. In Volume 4, Michelangelo gets a job as a tour guide showing alien visitors around Earth. His first (and so far only) tourist is the Regenta (or "princess") Seri of the Styracodon race. Michelangelo convinced Seri to sneak away from her bodyguards so that he could take her on a tour of the northwest coast of the US. Unfortunately, his plan landed him in trouble when Seri's bodyguards became aware of his machinations. They attacked Michelangelo and transported him back to their home world, were he was placed in prison. With the help of a Triceraton prisoner named Azokk he managed to escape the prison, and was rescued by a group of Triceratons who had come to rescue Azokk. Michelangelo was not given an especially large role in Volumes 1 and 2, did little to advance the plot, and was often not portrayed as an especially skilled fighter. His relatively small role was probably due to the need to establish Leonardo role as "leader" along with the fact that Donatello was Peter Laird's favorite Turtle, and Raphael was Kevin Eastman's favorite.

Throughout the various versions of the TMNT, Michelangelo has had the most romantic relationships, but all of his girlfriends have been aliens. The first, in the original cartoon, was the Neutrino girl, Kala; his second was the inappropriately-named Horridus ("Sara") in the Image comic series; and his third was an alien humanoid-dinosaur princess (known as a "Regenta") named Seri, in Volume 4 of the comics. In the third TMNT movie, Mikey also had one-sided feelings for a woman named Mitsu, the leader of a group of rebels who were trying to overthrow Lord Norinaga. In fact he, as well as Leonardo and Raphael (but for different reasons), wished to stay in the past with her.


In the comics published by Image Michelangelo's interest in writing is expanded upon and he's established as a writer of fiction and poetry. An early issue has him selling his first poem to poetry digest. As the comic continued, Michelangelo's career as a writer gradually expanded. In the final issue he has published his first novel, a romance called "A Rose Among the Thorns". April mentions that the book was already going back for a second printing and that she'd heard that Oprah Winfrey loved it which, "practically guarantees that it will be a best-seller."


In the Archie Comics series, Michelangelo is initially presented very similarly to his 1987 cartoon portrayal - understandable considering the comic started as an adaption of the popular animated series. As the series progressed, Archie's Michelangelo was presented as more mature than the cartoon version. This version developed an interest in poetry. During a battle, he was temporarily blinded and later captured by the US Military whereupon he was interrogated and tortured. He was eventually rescued by his family and saved the life of the man who tortured him. One of his many skills in the Archie comics was also to communicate with animals. In a storyline set in the future, Michelangelo is shown to have become an artist whose main job is running an orphanage.

1987 animated series

Michelangelo's persona became strongly established in the 1987 animated series. He was often seen as a "Party Dude", which, though accurate in the 1987 series (which gave him this title in the theme song), accounts for only part of his personality otherwise. As such, he usually didn't have much input in the teams plans although was still just as active as his brothers. He typically spent much of his time joking and socializing with other characters. He is most associated with the "Cowabunga" expression. He had a fondness for pizza, beyond even that of the other Turtles (in the season 3 episode Cowabunga, Shredhead, his pizza cravings annoyed the others so much that Splinter hypnotized him into refusing and denouncing pizza whenever the very word was mentioned; the hypnosis was lifted at the end of the episode) and was essentially comic relief, though Raphael has taken the role as the official comic relief in this incarnation.

During season 3, in the episode By Bye Fly, Baxter Stockman transformed Michelangelo into a small gerbil (with the same intelligence) with a mutation ray. However, the other turtles track the device to turn him normal again.

Michelangelo also received his distinctive voice in the 1987 series, which has been imitated in other portrayals of him. Employing a "surfer slang" vocabulary, he customarily spoke with a unique hybrid of a Californian surfer accent and possibly, a stereotypical "stoner" accent, though no reference is ever made to narcotics in the series. In fact, Michelangelo appeared in a 1990 animated special, Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, alongside other famous cartoon characters, intended to inform children about the dangers of substance abuse. Additionally, all four of the Turtles were official "spokes-turtles" of the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign. Michelangelo's trademark phrase in this series is the (in)famous "Cowabunga." In the original English language version of the 1987 series, Michelangelo's voice actor was Townsend Coleman.

2003 animated series

In the 2003 TV series, Michelangelo is voiced by Wayne Grayson. Known as 'Mikey' to his brothers, his personality is more akin to the Mirage comics than the 1987 show. Still the comic relief, he often makes statements that spoof pop culture, although he uses less surfer slang than in the 1987 cartoon.His trademark nunchaku are once again his primary weapons, but he has used other weapons such as grappling hooks and those of his brothers. He is slightly more immature than in the 1987 series - particularly apparent by his familiar high-pitched scream - and he likes to tease and annoy his older brothers, especially Raphael, for whom Michelangelo is the foil. In fact, a running gag of the series is that whenever Michelangelo says or does something excessively outrageous, usually involving a catch-phrase from the 1987 show, one of his brothers (usually Raphael) will slap him on the head. Raphael and Michelangelo mostly have a love-hate relationship in which Michelangelo frequently antagonizes Raphael (it especially hurts Raphael's pride that Michelangelo has bested him more than once, both times because Raphael's anger got in the way), but Raphael shows that he cares about him whenever he's in danger. He also seems to be very close with Donatello.

Michelangelo is regularly treated as the youngest brother and little is expected of him. However, he has an innocent empathy for others as shown in particular by his adoption of Klunk the stray kitten, to whom he is very close and also by his relationship with Leatherhead. It is his initial awareness of Leatherhead's humane side which ends up forging the bond between the crocodile and the other turtles. He enjoys Leatherhead's company, although he can tease him on occasion against his better judgment. However, he cares greatly for the crocodile and is quick and willing to forgive and reassure him when a rampaging Leatherhead injures him in a blind, nightmarish rage in the episode 'Hunted.' Leatherhead also appears to care greatly for Michelangelo and is distraught when he believes he has fatally injured him, but delighted to discover that his fears are unfounded when he finds out that the turtle is alive and well.

In some episodes of the series, Michelangelo takes on the role of a costumed super hero called "Turtle Titan" and befriends other superheroes such as the "Silver Sentry" and the "Justice Force". As Turtle Titan, Michelangelo uses grappling hooks as both a weapon and a mode of transportation.

Although not shown as particularly focused on ninjutsu, preferring to spend his time reading comics or watching movies, he is quite an effective fighter and in the Season 2 finale, he became the Battle Nexus Champion, considered the best fighter in the multiverse. Although his victory was due in part to some very lucky breaks (or, as Raphael puts it, sheer "dumb" luck), Michelangelo later won a rematch against the last finalist and earned a medal of honor for his behavior during the battle.

In early profiles of the 2003 animated series, Michelangelo is regarded as being the most athletic of the four, although unfocused on training mentally (though those are admittedly old profiles and may have been early plans for the character, he has certainly proven he is an effective fighter when the need arises). This profile statement has since been repeated in the profile of Michelangelo in the lead-up to the debut of Fast Forward season which began airing on July 29, 2006.


Michelangelo is depicted in the live-action movies as the easy-going, free-spirited turtle. One of his movie catch phrases is, "I love being a turtle!" Owing to his popularity with children, he is given many lines and comes up with several (slightly outrageous) plans to advance plots. In the first movie, he and Donatello were regularly paired together while Leonardo and Raphael were arguing. In the first movie and the first sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, he was portrayed by Michelan Sisti; in the second sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, he was portrayed by David Fraser. In all three movies, he was voiced by Robbie Rist.

In the new TMNT film, Mikey has taken to performing at children's birthday parties as "Cowabunga Carl" in order to make ends meet to support his family. It becomes apparent early in the film that the physical and emotional absence of his older brothers has finally begun to affect the outgoing Michelangelo. Unlike his other incarnations, the 2007 Mikey seems to draw the most emotional support from Donatello instead of his oldest brothers, Leonardo and Raphael. Upon Leonardo's return from Central America, Mikey gives his oldest brother an enthusiastic hug, falling over the couch and tripping over furniture in his excitement. Mikey's lively and innocent demeanor returns in full force when he is in the protective presence of his three older brothers again, his good-natured jokes and brief commentaries lightening even in hard situations. Clearly, despite the hardship that his family has recently experienced, Michelangelo has retained much of his usual goofy, laid-back personality and still remains the main form of comic relief. He is voiced by Mikey Kelley Comparing all four brothers in the 2007 movie; it is shown that he has blue eyes where the other three have brown. This cuts continuity as in all other film incarnations, Mikey has brown eyes. He is a fantastic skateboarder in this movie, able to complete a lot of tricks underground.

Video games

In the video games based on the 1987 animated series, Michelangelo is usually the slowest but strongest of the Turtles. However, to reflect his flashy personality, this trend was reversed and he became the fastest Turtle in the video games based on the 2003 animated series; Raphael became the strongest.


The character's name was originally misspelled as "Michaelangelo", with an additional "a". This misspelling had stuck until 2001 with Volume 4 of the comic series from Mirage Studios, when the spelling was officially changed to "Michelangelo". The 1996 anime also used the "Michelangelo" spelling. On the TMNT 2007 movie teaser poster featuring Michelangelo, we see the "Michaelangelo" spelling, though the movie uses the proper spelling of the name in its credits.

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