The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have proved surprisingly durable for something that started out as a dumb joke: Ninjas are fast and agile, turtles are not. Repeat, for 30 years and hundreds of millions of dollars.
Across the decades, the Turtles have survived such tribulations as transitioning from comics to TV to movies and back again, an unavoidable cultural association with Vanilla Ice, and an hour with Oprah. It remains to be seen whether the adolescent Chelonii can also weather an adaptation produced by explosion fetishist Michael Bay, but the odds are in their favor.
But time, like glowing, green, secret-having ooze, is a powerful mutating force. The modern Turtles (both the new live-action versions, and the ones in the current animated series on Nickelodeon) are almost unrecognizable from their early comic origins, having been altered by changing tastes, focus groups, and the constant shifting of media that has marked the franchise.
HalloweenCostumes.com has put together an interesting visual retrospective of the path that time has taken these improbable pop culture juggernauts down, including weird side alleys and evolutionary cul-de-sacs like the live-action Power Rangers-style show produced in the late ’90s and a brief detour into anime. Enjoy scrolling down, looking for the point where warm nostalgia transitions into “What the hell is this new crap?”, allowing you to pinpoint the exact moment that you became an old person.