TMNT: 11 Things You Need To Know About Bebop and Rocksteady

Bebop and Rocksteady in Out of the Shadows

Bebop and Rocksteady are likely the two most recognizable Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villains outside of the Shredder and Krang. The dimwitted duo have fought, and mostly failed, against the Ninja Turtles for almost three decades, starting first as toys and then in the 1987 animated series and spreading into the comics and afterwards. The gun toting rhino and warthog are fan favorites, who have played major roles in many of the biggest Turtle storylines. They’re finally making the move to the big screen with their appearance in the sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which is out now. With that in mind, here’s 11 Things You Need To Know About Bebop and Rocksteady.

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11 They’re named after styles of music

Bebop and Rocksteady comics

We all know that the Turtles are named after some of the most famous painters and sculptors in history, but they aren't the only characters with art-related. Given their background as two street thugs, it’s probably a little surprising that Bebop and Rocksteady would draw their names from things like jazz or reggae, but that’s exactly where the two characters got their names from.

Bebop, the tall African-American man who would mutate into a warthog, gets his name from a type of jazz music. Rocksteady, the short, stocky Caucasian man who becomes a rhino, gets his name from rocksteady, a type of Jamaican music that is seen as a predecessor to reggae.

10 They were created as part of a deal for the toy line

Bebop and Rocksteady action figures

Bebop and Rocksteady did not appear in the original TMNT comics. Instead, they were created and designed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird when he was negotiating a deal for a toyline with Playmates and they wanted more toys to release. At the time, they weren’t really given much personality or backstory.

Most of their history and origin, including their names and personality, were provided after they were added to the 1987 animated series. Writer David Wise added the characters and fleshed them out after produced Fred Wolf gave him instructions to add more mutants. The rest, as they say, is history.

9 If it was up to Peter Laird, Bebop and Rocksteady wouldn’t even exist

Bebop and Rocksteady comic panel

For anyone that's read the original comics, it's easy to see that they were generally pretty dark and gritty. Bebop and Rocksteady are anything but dark and gritty most of the time, usually being too dumb and goofy to actually get anything accomplished. This is something that doesn't exactly sit well with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird.

He's said in interviews that if he was still in control of the property, he wouldn't have so many goofy, stupid characters like Bebop and Rocksteady, that things would still be much more serious. It’s probably a good thing that Eastman and Laird sold the Turtles to Viacom, as it’s the goofiness of the animated series that made many kids fall in love with the characters.

8 They start as human members of a street gang employed by Shredder

Bebop and Rocksteady wanted posters

Bebop and Rocksteady weren’t always the gun toting mutants employed by Shredder to hunt down the turtles. Before all that that, Bebop and Rocksteady were just regular street thugs who were part of a gang that Shredder had hired to fight the Turtles. After they and their gang routinely failed to accomplish tasks that Shredder assigned to them and the gang, like stopping the reporter April O’Neil, Shredder decided to start mutating some of the thugs to level the field with the Ninja Turtles.

Both Bebop and Rocksteady volunteered to be the first to undergo the mutation, though without any real understanding of what it would entail, with the promise that it would help them get revenge on the Turtles. The procedure would mutate the pair into the humanoid warthog and rhino that they’re better known as, greatly increasing their strength, but leaving them as dumb and incompetent as ever.

7 They’re dumb. Really, really dumb.

Bebop and Rocksteady being dumb

A running gag in the various Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, shows, and games is that Bebop and Rocksteady are extremely, incredibly dumb. Just how dumb exactly? In an episode of the original animated series, the two were accidentally caught in a “brain extraction machine” that Krang had built. The machine would eventually conclude that there was “no data to extract”, essentially saying the two contained no knowledge.

It was this stupidity that often led to the duo being bested by the Turtles. Even though they were much stronger than the Turtles, they were routinely beaten and humiliated by the brothers because they relied on brute strength rather than wits. The Turtles were always able to use their wits and knowledge to ultimately come out on top of the duo.

6 Bebop’s pet turtle would get mutated into Slash

Slash the turtle TMNT

Bebop and Rocksteady would also have an interesting tie to another mutant in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle universe - the turtle Slash. In the original animated series, Slash was introduced as Bebop’s pet turtle that would be mutated by Rocksteady to carry out a mission that Shredder gave them. After getting free of the duo and the Technodrome, Slash would be part of a conspiracy to make the turtles look bad, framing them for damaging a prominent landmark in the city.

Slash has an innate hatred of the turtles and is generally characterized as being a bit mentally unstable, along with being incredibly strong and able to routinely handle all four Turtles at once. He would routinely appear in the show as an enemy of the Turtles and would later become an ally of the group in other comic and animated incarnations.

5 Bebop and Rocksteady (almost) kill Donatello

Bebop and Rocksteady hammer

Bebop and Rocksteady have spent decades being incompetent. From their beginnings as regular, human street thugs to their current mutated selves, the two have routinely failed to accomplish the tasks that Shredder and Krang have given them, especially when it came to killing the Turtles or stopping their good deeds.

Success would finally come in the current IDW Turtle comics when Bebop and Rocksteady would seemingly accomplish something they’d never done before: killing a Turtle. After a brutal fight which saw Bebop break Donatello’s bo staff, Rocksteady would smash Donatello’s shell with a hammer, leaving the Turtle in a pool of blood and barely alive. Donatello would cling to life long enough to have his consciousness temporarily transferred into Metalhead while his body was repaired.

4 Their origins were heavily changed for the 2012 animated series

Bebop and Rocksteady from the 2012 series

The origins of Bebop and Rocksteady as dimwitted street thugs are the most generally accepted for the characters, but the 2012 animated series had the characters having some very different backstories. Rocksteady was introduced as Ivan Steranko, a Russian arms dealer and artifact collector with a gold tooth and diamond right eye, who is an old friend and business partner of the Shredder. Bebop is introduced as Anton Zeck, an African-American professional thief with a high tech mechanical suit that sports an energy mohawk. The two are mutated as a punishment for stealing Shredder’s helmet in an earlier episode of the series. This incarnation seems to be a bit smarter than the others, though the two still constantly fail at their jobs and are often beaten and reprimanded by Shredder.

3 They were supposed to appear in Secret of the Ooze

TMNT Secret of the ooze

Given the popularity of Bebop and Rocksteady, it’s not surprising that they were originally intended to appear in the 1991 movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze. Unfortunately, Turtles co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird would object to the inclusion, likely because of them not really liking the characters. With the objections, the film was left to come up with other villains for the Turtles to fight. Thus, Tokka, a mutated alligator snapping turtle, and Rahzar, a mutated gray wolf, were introduced in the movie. Despite the mixed critical reception of the film and the characters, Tokka and Rahzar would go on to appear in future comics and animated series, though never in quite the starring role that Bebop and Rocksteady would command.

2 They were also planned for the 2014 movie

TMNT 2014 movie

Bebop and Rocksteady were also planned for the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As two of the more popular villains, especially with hardcore fans, it only makes sense that the creators of the film would want to work them in somehow. Again, it turned out that they two would have to wait.

Given the sheer amount of work that would go into making a movie with five CGI lead characters, the filmmakers decided including two more CGI characters in Bebop and Rocksteady would require too much more work on top of the work already being done. With the groundwork for the Turtles already there, it’s finally time to see Bebop and Rocksteady in action as they make big appearances in the sequel, out now.

1 Bebop and Rocksteady took some time to cast

Bebop and Rocksteady from TMNT: Out of the Shadows

With how much fans of the series love the characters, it’s only right that casting Bebop and Rocksteady for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows took some time. Rocksteady would end up being played by Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly, more popularly known for his pro wrestling career, and Bebop would go to Gary Anthony Williams, an actor well-known for his more comedic roles on things like The Boondocks and Malcolm in the Middle.

The two would develop great chemistry in the roles, making for fun on the screen and leading producer Brad Fuller to compare the two to Laurel and Hardy. If the sequel is successful, it’s more than possible that the two characters could pop up again in a third film, if it’s greenlit.

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