When the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made their comic book debut in 1984, it didn’t take long for this unusual group of heroes to become extremely popular. Within just a few years, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were everywhere – from TV shows to toys and other merchandise. As with any other successful idea, it also didn’t take long for people to start copying the concept. During the 80s and 90s, there were several shows that appeared to have been inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Although some of them became moderately successful, none of them ever managed to capture the popularity of the four famous turtles. Here are five shows that ripped off the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
1. Street Sharks
Like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Street Sharks were four crime-fighting animals that also had human-like qualities. They also tried to coin their own catchphrase. Instead of saying “cowabunga” like the Turtles, the Street Sharks said “jawsome”. Unlike the Turtles, however, the Street Sharks actually started as humans. They were transformed into sharks with the help of a DNA sequencing machine created by their father, Dr. Robert Bolton, and his partner. Street Sharks debuted in 1994 and aired until 1997. During its three seasons on the air, the show became relatively popular among young viewers. Mattel even released a line of action figures based on the characters. In 1996, there was also a comic book series based on the Street Sharks, but it didn’t last long. Unfortunately, Street Sharks has been mostly forgotten about in the years since the show ended.
2. Stone Protectors
Unless you were a kid (or parent) in the early 1990s, you’ve probably never heard of the Stone Protectors. The short-lived series only lasted for one season in 1993. The Stone Protectors were a group of trolls who lived in New York City and fought crime. They were also in a rock band. Despite the fact that the show was only around the 13 episodes, the Stone Protectors also had a video game that was released on Super Nintendo as well as a line of action figures. In March of 2021, fans of the franchise started a Kickstarter campaign to have the 13-episode series released on DVD. Unfortunately, however, the campaign fell short of its goal.
3. Extreme Dinosaurs
As you can see, the 90s was full of people trying to think of ways to replicate the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When one idea failed to work, people simply moved on to the next idea and hoped for the best. In 1997, Extreme Dinosaurs became one of those ideas. Originally, the Extreme Dinosaurs appeared as characters in Street Sharks. At the time, however, they were called the Dino Vengers. Mattel released a line of toys featuring the Extreme Dinosaurs in 1996, and the animated series debuted the following year. The series lasted for just one season, partly because people couldn’t get over the fact that it seemed too much like a knockoff of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
4. Samurai Pizza Cats
Some of the shows on this list did their best to not seem like they were copying the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles too closely, however, Samurai Pizza Cats isn’t one of them. It was very obvious that this series was inspired by TMNT, but it was never able to garner the same kind of attention. Samurai Pizza Cats began in 1990 as an anime series called Kyatto Ninden Teyandee (Cat Ninja Legend Teyandee). The following year, it was picked up in the United States and completely revamped for the American audience. The series gained a cult following among American anime fans, but it struggled to attract a wide audience. The series ran for just a year between 1991 and 1992.
5. Biker Mice From Mars
With a name almost as ridiculous as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s hard to deny that Biker Mice from Mars was inspired by the Cowabunga crew. As the name suggests, Biker Mice from Mars followed three mice from mars who, after watching their own planet be overrun, came to earth to defend the planet from being destroyed. Each of the mice had its own special weapon that helped the group in their fight. Despite its ridiculous concept, the show lasted for three seasons and gained a pretty big following. In fact, it is the only show on this list that was eventually revived. Biker Mice from Mars came back to TV in 2006 as a continuation of the original series. A video game was also released in Finland, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the revival would last for just one season.