Cowabunga dudes! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are turning 40. Created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the team was introduced in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May 1984). Named after Renaissance painters, Leonardo, Donatello, Michealangelo, and Rapheal were educated in martial arts and morality by their surrogate father Splinter to protect their city from villains like Shredder.

Eastman and Laird drew on multiple comic tropes to design the Turtles. First they were young heroes like the Teen Titans, mutated beings like the X-Men, and skilled fighters with martial arts mythos like Daredevil, all wrapped up in a funny animal guise. As the Turtles celebrate their 40th anniversary in comics, we take a look back at the timeline of the franchise’s milestones and revisit some of the best comic covers.

After finalizing the concept for their comic, Eastman and Laird founded their own comic book company, Mirage Studios, to publish the book.

They printed 3,000 copies of the first issue, which debuted in May 1984.

It sold out in weeks, so the creators published multiple printings of the first issue.

The ongoing series soon followed, which would run for 62 issues through August 1993. In addition to the creators, it featured writers and artists like Jim Lawson, Richard Corben, Michael Zulli, and Rick Veitch.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #50 (August 1992) marked the end of the black and white first volume.

Issue 51 (September 1992) began the second volume, now in color.

In 1987, Laird and Eastman granted the toy license to Playmates Toys, who produced hundreds of action figures, vehicles, and playsets.

Also in ’87, the Turtles expanded into television with their first animated TV series. The show created elements that have become synonymous with the franchise, including the Turtles’ personalities, love of pizza, catchphrases, and color-coded gear. It ran until 1996.

Archie published a miniseries based on the cartoon in ’88, which turned into the ongoing series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. It ran for 72 issues through ’95, primarily written by Dean Clarrain with art by Chris Allen.

In ’89, Konami released the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game for NES. Several games would follow for NES, arcades, and other video game systems.

The Turtles jumped to the big screen for the live-action film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990. Two live-action sequels came out in ’91 and ’93.

Image Comics published the next ongoing series, producing 23 issues from ’96 to ’99. It followed the Mirage continuity; Gary Carlson wrote the book and Frank Fosco provided the art.

In 2001, Mirage launched TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Laird at the helm and Lawson on art. It contained 32 issues and ran until 2014.

4Kids Entertainment created the next animated series, which aired seven seasons from 2003 to 2009. Laird worked on the production, making it more like the original comic than the first animated show.

The computer-animated movie TMNT was released in 2007, marking the first cartoon film in the franchise.

IDW Publishing kicked off a comic series in 2011 with Eastman as co-writer and illustrator. Dan Duncan, Mateus Santolouco, Corey Smith, David Wachter, and Sophie Campbell are among the writers and artists on the book.

The third animated series aired on Nickelodeon from 2012 to 2017.

IDW published the 24-issue Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures from 2013 to 2015.

In 2014, the Turtles returned to live-action for the edgier movie produced by Michael Bay. The sequel, Out of the Shadows, came out in 2016.

IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe series featuring 25 issues ran from 2016 to 2018.

In 2018-2020, IDW published the 26-issue series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Urban Legends.

The fourth animated series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, aired from 2018 to 2020, then a film sequel was released two years later.

In 2023, actor Seth Rogen co-wrote and produced the movie Mutant Mayhem.

IDW’s ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic reached issue 150 in April 2024.