Nickelodeon’s short-lived Rise of the Teenage Mutant Turtles may have caught flack when it first debuted, but it soon found itself an audience that’s been very happy to sing the show’s praises for years. Now that the newest iteration of the Turtles have landed their own movie on Netflix, which also holds the complete first season, it’s been the perfect time to talk about what the future could’ve held (and possibly still does?) in store for this new take on Leo, Raph, Mikey, and Donnie.
On Saturday, Rise fan Colin Stein held a Twitch stream of the film that featured several members of the show’s production crew, including executive producer Ant Ward, character designer Bryce Collins, storyboard artist Laura Gille, and series director JJ Conway. Beyond hearing the crew discuss what had to be cut from the film for length or neat ideas—there’s a version of this movie where April could’ve piloted a mech version of Raph that Donnie made, and the prologue originally featured the show’s main cast as older, battle-tested heroes in the Krang-controlled future of New York—there was some discussion on things the crew wanted to do with the show before they learned it was ending sooner than expected.
The show’s second season had noticeably a shorter episode count than the first, and there was plenty left on the cutting room floor, including an episode that would’ve been a parody of the Star Wars Holiday Special, of all things. One plotline that had to be cut entirely was the Turtles having other siblings who Splinter failed to save when he escaped from the Hidden City of New York. One of these siblings would’ve wound up in Baron Draxum’s possession, and the other would’ve been raised by the Hidden City’s spider crime boss, Big Mama.
Another casualty of the truncated season was Karai, reimagined in Rise as an ancestor to the Turtles. The character was close to being cut from entire season entirely on the basis of not being able to give her any real character with a small handful of episodes. Even after Ward convinced the crew to keep Karai around, having her die to save the Turtles understandably didn’t feel great to much of the staff. So the writers chose to have her live on by transferring her soul into April. Before her death, though, she would’ve had more time to spend with the Turtles on an individual basis.
Had Rise made it to season three, the Krang would’ve become the primary villains of that particular season, followed by the Rat King in a hypothetical season four. Following the movie, the show’s tone would gradually switch from goofy slapstick (said to be mandated by Nickeldeon) to a darker tone, a space that the the Rise movie occupies for most of its runtime via the Krang. Unlike previous incarnations, the Krang in Rise aren’t played for laughs, and the crew wanted to get as far into body horror as they were allowed. Presumably, the surviving Krang taken into custody would’ve served as that big bad.
The entire stream contains other interesting nuggets of information for fans to pore over, such as what the Rise crew hoped to do with the Hidden City and the ideas they had for the show’s version of Casey Jones. Maybe in a not-too-distant future, we’ll see this iteration of the Turtles—sorry, the Mad Dogs—get a second chance at life, as other animated superheroes have before. By all accounts, it sounds like this show had more than enough gas left in the tank.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is out now on Netflix, and the show can be watched on Netflix or Paramount+.
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