Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles? In the late 1980s, that’s the name that the heroes in a half shell had to go by in the UK…
When the 1990 movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made it into British cinemas, there was a disparity that became immediately apparent to the youth of the UK. For a year or two by that stage, the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series had been playing on television around the world. Yet in the UK, it went by another name.
The series that British children were shown was pretty much the same, apart from the fact that it was now called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. The title card for the TV show had been changed to reflect the new title, the song slightly altered, and the opening sequence edited. Furthermore, any scenes from the show that saw Michaelangelo fighting with his nunchaku were edited out. There were mild language tucks, too. For instance, the word ‘bummer’ was edited out as well, given that it was deemed a slang term for anal intercourse.
Yet why did the title have to change in the first place?
Well, this was down to the British government of the time. It was on the offensive against violence in children’s television, and in particular ninjas and nunchuks were in the firing line (the film A Very Brady Sequel, for instance, was effectively unreleasable for a long time in Britain, courtesy of a scene with a nunchuk in it). As such, in spite of the pre-existing comic line, it soon became clear that ‘Ninja Turtles’ wasn’t going to be allowed near the impressionable youth of Britain.
Thus, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had to be renamed – along with most of the merchandise and licensed products that accompanied it (including the tie-in videogame) – although the aforementioned feature film didn’t have to change its moniker. But then it wasn’t being screened on children’s television, and thus managed to escape the alterations.
The change in the UK title also affected other European countries. Across the likes of Austria, Germany, Norway and Belgium, they got Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles too. Subsequent reruns have given the show its original title back, and it’d be fair to say that the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles name is pretty much no more. Ninjas, in the long run, defeated Heroes.
Adventures 15-18,21,22,25, Annual 1990