The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are very popular and the adventures of these four ninjas are present in different forms of media. People usually speak of them as a collective unit, although each turtle is very individual and has specific personality traits that distinguish it from its brothers. In that aspect, while we usually do speak of them as a unit, we can also analyse them individually and we are going to do just that by telling you who the smartest, weakest, most and least intelligent turtle is, so keep reading to find out!
When pure physical strength is concerned, Raphael is certainly the strongest turtle, but Leonardo, as the leader, is certainly more skilled and composed. Donatello is without a doubt the smartest among the turtles while also being the weakest, while Michelangelo is usually depicted as being the most carefree among the four.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (often shortened to the TMNT or Ninja Turtles) are four fictional teenaged superhero anthropomorphic mutant turtles. Named after Italian Renaissance artists, they were trained by their anthropomorphic rat sensei in the Japanese martial art of ninjutsu. From their home in the sewers of New York City, they battle petty criminals, evil overlords, mutated creatures, and alien invaders while attempting to remain hidden from society. They were created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The characters originated in comic books published by Mirage Studios and expanded into cartoon series, films, video games, toys, and other merchandise. During the peak of the franchise’s popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it gained worldwide success and fame.
Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us discuss the topic of this article in more detail.
Who are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a group of four fictional anthropomorphic turtles that appear as the protagonists of the franchise named after them. They were created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in comic book form, but have since appeared in TV shows, films, video games and more.
There are four turtles that comprise the group:
- Leonardo, nicknamed Leo, is most often the leader of the group. He is often depicted wearing a blue bandanna. His signature weapons are two katana. Leonardo is the eldest brother. He is the most skilled, the most serious, the most spiritual, the most disciplined and the most in-line with Splinter’s teachings and thoughts. He is named after Leonardo da Vinci. He is the only Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle whose name has more than one “O”, instead his name having two “O’s”.
- Raphael, nicknamed Raph, is the second oldest/mid-middle-child of the turtle brothers. He is usually depicted wearing a red eye mask; in this regard, he is the only turtle to retain the colour in all media, whereas the others each received a different colour (initially, all the turtles wore red masks, but the colours were later changed to differentiate them). Raphael wields twin sai, the points of which are usually sharpened, as his primary weapon. Raphael is most famous for his temperamental personality, being short-tempered, aggressive, sullen, maddened, and rebellious. He is portrayed in most interaction as speaking with a Brooklyn accent. He is named after Raffaello Sanzio.
- Michelangelo, nicknamed Mike or Mikey, is the comedian of the group. He is usually depicted wearing an orange eye mask. His signature weapons are dual nunchaku, though he has also been portrayed using other weapons, such as a grappling hook, manriki-gusari, tonfa, and a three-section staff (in some action figures). Michaelangelo is the most naturally skilled of his four brothers but prefers to have a good time rather than train. He often coins most of their catchphrases, such as “Cowabunga!”. He is named after Michelangelo Buonarroti. His name was originally spelt Michaelangelo by the original creators, possibly misspelling his name sake’s name wrong due to the name “Michael” and how the name “Michael” is spelt.
- Donatello, nicknamed Don or Donnie, is the technical genius of the group. He is usually depicted wearing a purple eye mask. His primary signature weapon are his (2) effective bō staffs. In all media, he is the smartest of the four turtles. He is listed as 4′ in height on the original action figure release. Donnie often speaks in technobabble with a natural aptitude for science and technology. Because of this, Donnie’s ninja skills are the lowest of the four turtles. He usually relies on gadgets over combat skills. He is the middle of the turtles and third-in-command. He is named after Italian sculptor Donatello.
The Turtles live in the sewers of New York City with their sensei Splinter, an anthropomorphic rat they consider to be their father. Their best friend is the TV reporter and journalist April O’Neil, but they also frequently collaborate with the mysterious vigilante Casey Jones. Their arch-enemy is The Shredder, the villainous ninjitsu master who leads the Foot Clan; his underlings include the mutated delinquents Rocksteady and Bebop, but also a large number of ninjas that comprise Shredder’s clan. Along with the Shredder, the Turtles have often fought the brain-like alien Krang, as well as the mad scientist Baxter Stockman.
After this introduction to the Turtles and their lore, we can continue with the main topic of our article and analyse each aspect individually.
The Strongest Turtle: Raphael or Leonardo
This category truly was the toughest to call, which is why we have decided not to make a call at all and to declare it as a draw. Namely, when sheer power is taken into consideration, Raphael is certainly the strongest among the turtles, but we cannot ignore Leonardo’s skills and his composure. This is why we have decided not to call this one, but to let you make the call for yourselves based on our arguments.
Raphael, the “red Turtle”, is usually depicted as being the most stubborn and hotheaded among the four brothers. Although the original animated series didn’t stress that out too much, later iterations did it and at one point, Raphael was even close to becoming somewhat of an antihero rather than a true hero. He is very skilled and is generally depicted as being the best fighter of the group, likewise the strongest among he four turtles. He trains the most and he always cherishes both a dangerous situation and a tough opponent, as he is always ready for a challenge. Still, where he triumphs with his powers, he lacks the necessary composure, which is why he is not the leader of the group. He cannot really control his emotions that well, he is usually angry and very sarcastic and he doesn’t always listen to reason. This is how Raphael’s strength is somewhat balanced out, as his temperament is his biggest weakness and it is really a significant one.
This is where Leonardo comes in. Namely, Leonardo, the “blue Turtle”, is the leader of the group. Although he also has his emotional outbursts, he is generally very calm and rational, i.e., he is the embodiment of a true leader. He is by far the most skilled among the turtles, as he has invested a lot in the more transcendental aspects of ninjitsu, going a level above the traditional fighting skills; he is also Splinter’s best pupil. While Leonardo is not as powerful as Raphael, he is more composed and is more skilled, which makes him stronger in a certain way. He also knows how to think straight in difficult situations, which makes him a better fighter than Raphael, who will easily lose it and – perhaps – do something stupid. The chance of that happening to Leonardo is much smaller.
Would Leonardo beat Raphael in a fight? Probably yes, but that is certainly a tough call. Raphael is stronger, but Leonardo would probably find a way – as he is a much better tactician – to defeat his brother. Luckily, they are on the same side, despite the not so uncommon clashes they have from time to time. And this is why we decided not to call this one straightforwardly, but to list both of the turtles as “winners”.
The Weakest Turtle: Donatello
Okay, let’s be honest – pinpointing the weakest in a group of four mutant ninjas is rather silly, since all four of them are exceptionally powerful, but we had to do that too. Still, we’d like to stress out that weakest here means only that he is not as strong as the other three… not that he wouldn’t kick our asses in a matter of seconds.
Okay, now that we have cleared this up, we can state that the weakest among the turtles is Donatello, the “purple Turtle”. Donatello wields a bō staff that is exceptionally effective when in his arms, but the fact is that Donatello is just not that focused on fighting. He is an inventor and the creative genius of the group and although he is a great fighter, his powers just don’t match those of his brothers, simply because that is not his primary goal, nor was he imagined to be “that turtle”. Donatello prefers inventing and brainwork to classical fighting, which is why we have listed him as the “winner” in this category, although – and we cannot stress that enough – he would kick our asses in a matter of moments because he is still quite skilled in ninjitsu.
The Smartest Turtle: Donatello
Do you all remember the intro of the original TMNT series from 1987? You don’t? Let us revisit it:
One of the most epic cartoon intros ever says “Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines“, right as the “purple Turtle” is depicted working on an overly elaborate coffee-making machine that, of course, backfired and explodes. The animators wanted to make the children laugh, but the lyrics don’t really lie as Donatello really is the smartest among the turtles.
This was really a no-brainer, as Donatello is both depicted and described as being the smartest among the turtles. He is an inventor and was able to come up with a variety of very useful inventions throughout the comics and TV shows. He is also very curious and well-read, much more than any of his brothers, which also makes this a pretty clear situation. Although his inventions tend to backfire and be overly elaborate (which reminds us a bit of Wile E. Coyote) from time to time, this doesn’t really change the fact that he is a genius and that he is definitely the most creative among the turtles. This is why we have listed him as the clear “winner” in this category.
The Most Carefree Turtle: Michelangelo
Finally, we have decided to name this category “the most carefree Turtle” because calling the “winner” dumb would just be mean and very far from the truth. But, before we announce him, let us revisit the 1987 intro. In it, the singer says: “Raphael is cool, but rude; Michelangelo is a party dude“, as we see Mikey dance on his shell on an improvised dance floor. And there we have our winner – it’s Michelangelo!
Michelangelo is definitely the most relaxed and the most childish member of the group. It’s not that he cannot grasp the seriousness of a situation, it’s just that he decides to live a relaxed life because it suits him. He is a skilled fighter and is far from being stupid, but he just doesn’t take things as seriously as his brothers when he doesn’t have to. Hs adores pizza (he is the biggest connoisseur among the brothers), he likes to party and play games and is known for “Cowabunga!”, which doesn’t actually mean anything specific in this case, but shows Mikey’s worldview.
Ironically, despite being the most likely to do something reckless, Michelangelo is the last surviving turtle in a dark future where Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo have been killed, and Michelangelo had to become The Last Ronin so that he can avenge his fallen brothers. Talk about a dark twist to the story…
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us! Cowabunga!