Michelangelo, better known as Mikey, is one of the four humanoid turtles in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) franchise. He is easily recognized in the company of his brothers, Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael, as the playful and fun-loving Ninja Turtle who wears an orange mask.
Michelangelo and his brothers were first introduced to comic readers in May 1984 in the self-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, that parodied Marvel Comics’ teenage superhero characters in the 1980s, such as Daredevil and the New Mutants. The first issue introduced Michelangelo, his brothers and their mentor, the rat sensei Splinter, who battled the evil Foot Clan ninjas and their leader, Shredder, a malevolent character with a fearsome armor inspired by a cheese grater, according to TMNT lore.
Although Michelangelo’s reputation as the fun-loving member of the team was established in the original comic books, changes to the character in the 1987 animated TV series to incorporate childlike traits played a key role in launching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to worldwide fame. The cartoon series targeted a younger audience than the original comic books, thus the creators tweaked the character to emphasize traits they thought would appeal to a younger audience.
However, many of Mikey’s fans have argued that this treatment of his personality has been at the expense of other aspects that make for universal appeal.
In line with the efforts to explore the multidimensional aspects of the TMNT character, here are 20 Mind-Blowing Facts About Michelangelo.
20. Michelangelo Is An Expert In Multiple Ninjutsu Disciplines
The form of martial arts that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles practice is ninjutsu, a traditional Japanese art that incorporates commando strategies and the stealth tactics of guerrilla warfare and espionage.
Michelangelo and his brothers were trained in ninjutsu by their sensei Master Splinter, who rescued them as baby turtles. They were later exposed to a mutagen which transformed them into humanoid turtles. Splinter was transformed into a humanoid rat after he also came into contact with the mutagen ooze.
The comics, cartoon series, and movies, reveal Michelangelo as a master of several related shinobi-iri disciplines of ninjutsu, including Taijutsu (unarmed body combat techniques), Hensojustu (undercover operations and espionage), Intonjutsu (stealth on land), Sui-ren (stealth in watery medium), Shurikenjustu (swords and blades), Kyujutsu (archery), and Kayakujustu (firearms, smoke bombs and explosives).
19. Master Splinter Declared Mikey The Most Talented Ninja Turtle
Despite the fact that he is portrayed as a lighthearted prankster, Michelangelo is a highly talented martial artist with superior ninjutsu skills. In Nickelodeon’s interactive prequel comic to the 2012 cartoon series, Tales from the Turtle Lair, Splinter described Michelangelo as naturally gifted and possessing more raw talent than all his brothers combined. However, he lamented that he has failed to develop his talents because he won’t focus on training.
In the Season 2 finale of the 2003 TV series, titled “The Big Brawl,” he won the Battle Nexus tournament. He proved that his victory was not a fluke when he defeated his opponent, Kluh, in a rematch. He had earlier defeated Raphael in round three of the tournament, after defeating Splinter in round two. In his encounter with Raphael, he demonstrated his ability to complement his fighting skills with psychological manipulation of the opponent.
18. Mikey’s Signature Weapons Are The Dual Nunchaku And Chain-Sickle
In the cartoon series, Michelango’s primary weapon is the dual nunchaku, which he wields with consummate skill. Mikey can convert his nunchaku into a kusarigama or chain and sickle weapon. The chains and blades are concealed at the ends of his nunchaku sticks.
Michelango first fielded his kusarigama in Season 1, Episode 1 of the 2012 TV series, titled “Rise of the Turtles, Part 1.” He also used variations of kusari-fundo or manriki-gusari style weapons in the 1987 and 2012 TV series. These weapons consist of a length of chain (kusari) and weights (fundo) at the ends.
In the 2012 cartoon series, Michelangelo demonstrated kobudo skills when he used a pair of laser tonfas while fighting the Triceratons. In other episodes of the 2012 TV series, including the Season 1 episodes “Turtle Temper” and “The Gauntlet,” he used the yumi bow and the shuriken.
17. Mikey’s Special Skills Include Shadow Puppetry And The Japanese Language
Michelangelo is skilled in the art of shadow puppetry. He uses the skill to realistically simulate the shadows of different types of objects and animals, as part of his ninjutsu discipline. He was able to use the skill to deceive opponents, including Fishface and Razhar.
He loves naming things and creatures, and insists that the others leave it to him to invent befitting names for their opponents.
Many viewers were surprised to discover in TMNT: The Secret History of the Foot Clan (Part 4), that he is able to read Japanese. The Turtles found an ancient text in Japanese script and Michelangelo read it. This led to the suggestion that he has memories of his past life as the son of Hamato Yoshi.
16. Michelangelo’s Nunchaku Was Banned In Europe
The European authorities censored Michelangelo’s nunchaku when the show was exported to Europe. Fans will recall that by Season 4 of the original cartoon series, his nunchaku had been replaced by grappling hooks. This was due to censorship. The nunchaku was banned at the time in several European countries due to violence involving people armed with the weapon. This forced the creators of the series to edit out Michelangelo’s nunchaku. He was armed instead with a “turtle line,” a form of grappling hook which became his primary weapon in the series.
In the U.K., the title of the cartoon series was also edited. It was called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, instead of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, because the word “ninja” was thought to denote extreme violence, and thus inappropriate for a young audience.
15. Mikey’s Character Has Evolved More Than His Brothers Since The Original Comics
Although he was portrayed as a fun-loving and carefree personality, the childlike silliness and pranking were not a prominent part of Michelangelo’s character when he was first introduced in the Mirage comics. However, when he was given a greater role in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series, his portrayal underwent significant changes, as part of efforts to make the show appeal to a much younger audience. The cartoon series thus emphasized childlike traits in Michelangelo, and gave him colorful expressions, such as “cowabunga” and “booyakasha.”
The film series attempted to develop the character further, but although he was more aggressive in the movies, he still retained his comic relief role. But the clown role became more restricted to intervals between major action sequences.
14. We Really Don’t Know That Michelangelo Is The Youngest Of The Turtles
He is often said to be the youngest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, although none of the several versions of the story of their origins attempts to specify which was born first and which last.
The idea that he is the youngest arose from the fact that he is portrayed as being less mature than his brothers. The impression is fostered by his clownish silliness and easy-going personality. In addition, physical traits such as baby blue eyes, freckles, small and pudgy physique, were used to suggest he is younger than his brothers.
However, we know that the Ninja Turtles are the same age, 15, and that turtles born from the same batch of eggs are usually born at about the same time. Thus, it is more appropriate to think of Michelangelo as the runt of the “litter,” rather than the youngest.
13. Michelangelo Was Megan Fox’s Childhood Crush
Megan Fox, who starred as April O’Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) and in TMNT: Out of the Shadows (2016), admitted in an interview with Collider that her favorite Ninja Turtle as a child was Michelangelo, and that he was her “first crush.” She admitted it sounds weird that a little girl would have a crush on a turtle, but she pointed out that little girls often have crushes on their favorite cartoon characters.
According to Fox, she was only four years old when she first saw the TMNT movie. She said she liked Michelangelo because he was the funny one of the Ninja Turtles. She also claimed that she was familiar with the subject of mutants because she lived close to a chemical plant in Tennessee and saw mutant animals there.
12. Mikey’s Love For Pizza Inspired Some Of His Most Disgusting Acts On TV
Mikey introduced pizza to his brothers in the first episode of the 2012 series, “Rise of the Turtles, Part 1.” He became so hooked on pizza that in the Season 1 episode “Panic in the Sewers,” he ate leftover pizza he found lying on the ground and took them from trash cans. In the Season 3 episode “Casey Jones vs. The Underworld,” he disgusted fans by eating spoiled pizza from their fridge.
Later in the episode, he behaved strangely and panicked when he was unable to find the TV remote.
Much later, while eating cheese balls, Leonardo questioned Mikey about the ingredients of the food. He insisted the cheese balls were made from natural products. They later found out that their foes, the Purple Dragons and Shredder, operated the factory that made the cheese balls, and that they might have been adding mind-control chemicals to their food products.
11. He Cooks For His Family, But They Are None Too Impressed With His Culinary Skills
In the 2012 cartoon series, Michelangelo cooked for his family. His cooking skills must be passable since his brothers let him do it, but they often complain about his bizarre culinary concoctions, such as his pizza noodle soup and p-shake. However, we learned in the Season 1 episode “It Came From The Depths,” that his friend, Leatherhead, loves his cooking. But it is not likely that even Michelangelo’s most committed fans would want to judge their hero’s cooking by the culinary tastes of a mutant alligator created in a Kraang laboratory.
Michelangelo was also involved in some extreme pizza connoisseur adventures in the comics and TV series, creating pizza with toppings, such as peanut butter and clams, tuna fish and grape jelly, and butterscotch with onion and anchovy.
10. Michelangelo’s Face In TMNT (2014) Was Inspired By Bill Murray’s
In an interview with Screen Rant, Jonathan Liebesman, who directed Michael Bay’s rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series, revealed that the faces of the Ninja Turtles were inspired by celebrities. Michelangelo’s face was inspired by the comedian Bill Murray, the Emmy and Golden Globe winner, who starred in the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge (2012), Lost In Translation (2003), Groundhog Day (1993), Ghostbusters II (1989), Ghostbusters (1984) and Scrooged (1988).
We also learned that Leonardo’s eyes were inspired by Russell Crowe’s, and his lips by Nelson Mandela’s. Raphael’s demeanor was inspired by Clint Eastwood, and Donatello’s by Star Trek’s Commander Spock. Splinter’s appearance was inspired by the Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, who starred in Seven Samurai (1954).
9. The 2012 TV Series Might Have Flirted With The Idea That Mikey Has ADHD
Several fans claimed in 2013 that they read on Michelangelo’s bio page in the official Nickelodeon website of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012 TV series) that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, the fans said that when they later returned to the page the statement had been removed.
The claims spread very quickly and fans began to speculate that the alleged revelation explained Michelangelo’s character, including his lack of focus, impulsiveness, talkativeness and boisterousness.
The claims flared up again after some fans suggested that his behavior in the episode “Casey Jones vs The Underworld,” was suggestive of ADHD. They argued that his behavior was due to eating snacks containing an additive identified in the episode as”Red Dye 42.” Some fans claimed that “Red Dye 42” was an allusion to Red 40, a type of artificial food coloring (AFC) that some studies claim can cause ADHD in children.
8. Mikey’s “Cowabunga!” Was First Used In The Children’s Show Howdy Doody
Michelangelo was known in the 1987 TV series for shouting the nonsense catchphrase “Cowabunga!” when launching an attack on an enemy.
The expression was first used on U.S. TV in the NBC children’s show Howdy Doody (1947-1960), created and produced by E. Roger Muir. The character Chief Thunderthud used it as an exclamation to express delight and surprise. It was later adopted by the Southern Californian surf culture to express excitement at a moment of surfing triumph.
Observers have noted that Michelangelo’s accent in the 1987 TV series was a Californian surfer accent similar to Jeff Spicoli’s (Sean Penn) accent in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Some will recall the scene in which Spicoli ordered pizza in the classroom.
7. Mikey’s “Booyakasha!” Originated From Jamaican Patois
Michelangelo sometimes yelled “Booyakasha!” in the 2012 TV series. Fans learned in the Season 1 episode “Enemy of My Enemy,” that Michelangelo did not know what his favorite catchphrase meant.
Although some claimed that the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s satirical character, Ali G, coined the phrase, but it is more widely believed that it originated from Jamaican patois. The phrase is used as a slang word for exclamation in Jamaican patois.
Others have claimed that the expression was one of many that Jamaican patios borrowed from the language of Irish immigrants to the plantations of Jamaica in the 17th century. Thus, the expression is said to have been derived from the Irish phrase “buiochas” (glory be/praise be), pronounced “bwee ah kuss,” according to the online Urban Dictionary.
6. Michelangelo’s Favorite Superheroes Include Batman And Spider-Man
In the original Mirage comics and the TV series, Michelangelo is portrayed as an avid comic book reader and superhero fan. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IDW #67, titled “Desperate Measures, Part 1,” he was portrayed as a comic book collector. His collection included Batman, The Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man.
Similarly, in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IDW #22, he was shown reading “100-Page Spectacular 2012: After the Fire.” We also got a glimpse of his bedroom in TMNT IDW #65. His collection included Katsuhiro Otomo’s post-apocalyptic series, Akira.
In the 2012 TV series, we learned that he reads Crognarg the Barbarian, and loves cartoon shows, such as Super Robo Mecha Force Five.
Mikey sometimes imagines himself to be a superhero. In the 2003 TV series, he created his own superhero identity “Turtle Titan,” and befriended Silver Sentry, and other superheroes of the Justice Force.
5. Mikey Is Named After The Renaissance Artist Michelangelo Buonarroti
Mikey’s daddy, Master Splinter, named him after the Renaissance Italian artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Splinter derived the names of the Renaissance artists he gave his four Ninja Turtle sons from a book he found in the storm drain.
Michelangelo’s brothers usually call him Mike or Mikey. But Splinter sometimes calls him Michelangelo when he has done something naughty and deserving of a reprimand or punishment. However, the name Michelangelo is ultimately derived from the Hellenized version of the Hebrew name of the Archangel Michael, which means “Who can be compared with God?”
Mikey’s brothers are likewise named after Renaissance artists: Leo is named after the Italian painter and sculptor Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello is named after the Italian sculptor Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi, and Raphael, after the Renaissance painter and architect Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino.
4. Michelangelo’s Name Was At First Misspelled Michaelangelo
The indie comic artists, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, who created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, got their fourth turtle character’s name wrong in the first 40-page issue of their TMNT comic published in May 1984. In their first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, they spelled Mikey’s full name Michaelangelo, instead of Michelangelo.
The first issue of the TMNT comic — largely a parody of the 1980s Daredevil who fought ninjas called The Hand — was self-published using $1000 obtained from an IRS tax refund and a loan from Eastman’s uncle.
Eastman and Laird were forced to keep the misspelling for nearly the first two decades of the existence of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for reasons of their copyright claim. They eventually corrected the misspelling in 2001 when the TMNT comic book was re-launched.
3. Michelangelo Is An Animal Lover
Michelangelo is revealed in the cartoon series to be an animal lover. In the 2003 TV series Season 3 episode “The Christmas Aliens,” his empathy for animals led him to adopt the stray kitten Klunk. Later, when he was caught in a battle with Purple Dragon thugs, he showed concern for the frightened cat’s welfare.
In the Season 2 episode of the 2012 TV series, titled “Of Rats and Men,” Mikey befriended Ice Cream Kitty, who was transformed into an ice cream cat after eating ice cream contaminated with mutagen.
Mikey’s relationship with the mutant alligator, Leatherhead, also illustrates his love for animals. The alligator, who was the victim of horrible experiments by the Kraang, met the Ninja Turtles in the Season 1 episode of the 2012 series, titled “It Came From The Depths.” Leatherhead eventually became friends with the Ninja Turtles, thanks to Mikey’s empathy and patience.
2. Michelangelo Suffered Depression In A Deleted Scene From TMNT (1990)
Teenage Mutants Ninja Turtle (1990) had several deleted scenes and fans were able to catch their first still photo glimpses of some of the scenes when a movie sticker album was released in 1990. Many of the deleted scenes were those in which attempts were made to work on character development for the Ninja Turtles and elaborate more on Casey and April’s romance.
In one deleted scene, Michelangelo falls into an unfamiliar introspective state of mind and suffers a bout of severe depression. Had the scene made the final cut, fans of the perpetually upbeat, cheerful, and easy-going Ninja Turtle might have had a hard time reconciling their established notion of the character with the guy who gives vent to his frustrations by destroying a punching bag and tearing down part of the barn wall.
1. Mikey Clashed With Vanilla Ice’s Bodyguards On The Set Of The Secrets Of The Ooze
When Vanilla Ice arrived at the set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secrets of the Ooze (1991) to participate in filming the rap scene, actor Michelan Sisti, in his full Michelangelo Ninja Turtle costume, tried to welcome him with a hug. However, one of Vanilla Ice’s bodyguards objected to the sight of a lowly sewer turtle trying to hug his boss. This led to a confrontation that threatened to engulf the set as the entire cast of the movie, including the stuntmen, stood up for the Ninja Turtle, Michelangelo.
Fortunately, Pat Johnson, the stunt coordinator on the set, helped to calm frayed nerves.
The martial arts expert, Daniel Pesina, who played one of Shredder’s goons in the movie, later revealed the incident in an interview.
Have we missed any mind-blowing fact about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Michelangelo? Let us know in the comments.
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