Time travel has become an essential component of the TMNT mythology, and this is how the Turtles first traveled through time.
With decades of history, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has acquired a few narrative conventions. Among these beloved tropes is the turtles’ time-traveling adventures. The TMNT’s exciting travels across time began very early in their run, setting the stage for many of the turtles’ future (and past) adventures.
The Heroes in a Half-Shell had their first experience with time travel in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #8 by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird and Dave Sim. This issue began when Renet, apprentice of the timelord Simultaneous, stole her master’s time scepter. After Simultaneous caught Renet, the mistress of time desperately traveled back to 1986, where she first met the TMNT.
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The Turtles became fast friends with Renet, bonding over a shared sense of youth. Immediately afterward, Lord Simultaneous managed to find Renet, enraged at his student’s crimes. Taking the turtles, Renet asked the scepter to throw them sometime before humans recorded their own history. Together, the TMNT and Renet landed in the year 1406 and met an aardvark named Cerebus, an icon of Dave Sim’s controversial independent comics.
The Turtles’ arrival also awakened the demonic Savanti Romero, a failed apprentice of Lord Simultaneous. Sensing the time scepter’s arrival, Savanti sent his army to retrieve the magical artifact. Ambushed, the turtles were helpless as the time scepter was taken from them. In retaliation, Cerebus hired an army of mercenaries to attack Savanti’s castle, while he, the turtles and Renet would scale the castle unseen. Fighting their way through a zombie army, the TMNT made their way inside the demon’s fortress.
Unfortunately, Savanti seized the Turtles with his magic, halting their assault. Before he could kill the Turtles, however, Lord Simultaneous appeared, engaging Savanti in mystical combat. Simultaneous zapped Savanti away, sending the turtles back home and punishing Renet once everything was back to normal.
After this adventure, the TMNT have traveled through time on several occasions. Most of these exploits have involved Renet acting as the catalyst to sends the turtles through time. Indeed, in the IDW TMNT comics, Renet returned, remembering the Turtles from her adventures with their Mirage counterparts. In the TMNT 2014 Annual, by Eastman and Tom Waltz, Renet took the IDW turtles on a trip across time and space to participate in the Battle Nexus Tournament.
Similarly, Renet helped the Turtles find their way home in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time by Paul Allor, Sophie Campbell, Erik Burnham, Charles Paul Wilson III, Ben Bates and Dan Duncan. Renet also assisted the turtles in stopping Bebop and Rocksteady in TMNT: Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything, by Ben Bates, Dustin Weaver, Campbell, Giannis Milonogiannis, Damian Couceiro, Nick Pitarra and Ryan Browne. Time travel has even played a critical role in the TMNT’s most recent comics, serving as a warning for the future.
Outside of the comics, time travel has pervaded the TMNT franchise. First and foremost, there’s the classic 1991 arcade game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, which sent the turtles from the distant past to the far future.
In 1993, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III saw the turtles travel back to feudal Japan and battle the evil Lord Noringa. The 2003 animated series involved several episodes about time travel featuring Renet. Additionally, the entire sixth season, titled TMNT: Fast Forward, was based in the future.
In 2021, the Turtles’ animated series also heavily focused on time travel in its fourth season, when the Turtles went back in time to stop the Triceraton invasion of Earth. Overall, time travel has become an essential component of the TMNT franchise. Without the Turtles’ first encounter with Renet, none of the TMNT’s many wild adventures across time would have been possible.
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