TMNT: Rebellion for Humanity

The mediated popular culture artifact has been chosen from an episode of the Nickelodeon remake of the popular 1980s cartoon, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This episode was aired on Saturday September 9th 2012 at 11:00 am on Nickelodeon in the U.S and YTV in Canada. The overview of the first episode of the series, which is the subject to analyze, the four ninja turtle brothers have gone off to the surface for the first time, and when everything seems like paradise, a group of alien robots called, “Kraang,” have kidnapped a scientist and his daughter. The head act that will be examined is the Ninja Turtles disobeying Master Splinter’s orders of not encountering any humans. This act will be examined by using the method of Pentad; act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose. The act is disobeying orders and going ahead to, “be the hero,” without permission. The agents are Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michaelangelo and Kraang. The agencies to accomplish this act are stealth and ninjitsu. The scene where all of the action takes place is in the streets of New York City. The purpose of disobeying Master Splinter’s rule of not encountering strangers was because the Kraang were kidnapping the scientist and his daughter, and the turtles had to save them. Through the elements of Pentad, this episode implies that people will sometimes have to disobey orders and break the rules for the good of other people. The turtles disobeyed Master Splinter’s orders because of the absolution of guilt. This can be analyzed by examining the motive for the turtles’ transcendence, and how they absolved their guilt by victimage and mortification.

 The Ninja Turtles’ motive can be seen as a transcendence. In the show, they are mutations that are trained to be ninjas and to fight for the good of other people. But, sometimes they break one of the rules for being a ninja, which is to never show yourself. When the four brothers are on a building, they spot a young girl walking with her father around the street corner. Then a mysterious truck appears and kidnaps both the girl and her father. At the scene of doubt the four turtles have decided that they will have to disobey Master Splinter’s commands, and save the girl and her father. It is clear that the turtles are always ready to fight, hence they are ninjas. Since this was the first time they are visiting the surface, there is no better time to become heroes and save the innocent pedestrians thus, was following a higher calling.


After Kraang kidnapped the scientist and his daughter, the turtles go back home and confront Master Splinter, and they start blaming each other for what happened. Raphael blames Leonardo for stabbing him with swords, Leonardo blames Donatello for just jumping ahead into action without following commands, Donatello blames Michaelangelo for hitting him in the head with Nunchucks, and Michaelangelo, being the comic relief, blames the person who let them go out on the surface in the first place, which happens to be Master Splinter. Michaelangelo, tries to take back what he said, but Splinter accepts his mistake. He says:

“Yes. I take full blame and responsibility. Perhaps I have trained you all to fight as individual ninjas, but have not trained you all to fight as a ninja team.”

 Through these words, they accept that it was no one’s fault of what happened as an individual, but every one’s fault of what happened as a team thus, mortification.

 The feeling of mortification ends when they track down the truck that kidnapped the scientist and his daughter. The ninjas ambush the truck driver and fight their way through thousands of Kraang soldiers. After a fierce battle they have rescued the scientist’s daughter, but failed to rescue the scientist. The feeling of mortification comes back when Donatello says:

 “Don’t worry. We promise to find your father, and we won’t rest until we do.”

 The others agree to the statement, not letting Donatello take full blame. This implies that no matter what the cause, the brothers will always be there to support each other.

 Therefore, each analytical assessment gives an example that people in general, will have to break the rules and disobey orders for the good of others. Through the turtles’ motive of transcendence, they had to disobey orders to save the innocent people. The way victimage is being conveyed implies that if the transcendence is being used as a group, then the blame has to go to the group. The fading of mortification implies that there is no need for blame if one does whatever they can to make it right. This episode is an example of the different audiences, age wise, that is viewing this television show. By being aired on Nickelodeon and YTV, it is viewed by Americans and Canadians. By airing it on Saturday morning, this show is meant for kids, teenagers and adults for enjoyment.


One thought on “TMNT: Rebellion for Humanity

  1. First off, I love that the artifact you chose to analyze was a TMNT episode, which was one of the more awesome TV shows of the 80s/90s. Unfortunately, the link no longer works because of a copy right claim, so I’m basing this comment completely on your written analysis. I love the idea of applying Burke’s theory to TMNT and I think it works here, especially how you describe the act of transcendence with the four brothers acting against their adviser for “the greater good”. This disobedience becomes then justified, as you said, because in a small act of rebellion against their adviser, they in turn save humanity against the robots, which of course, is always something that is routed for in pop culture. I understand conceptualizing and clarifying the story a bit for readers of the blog or those who are not familiar with the show or story line of the episode being discussed, but maybe less explanation or a more concise plot overview would be helpful here to give your analysis full depth, but I think everything is well explained none the less because ultimately, your argument in why and how the ninja turtle’s actions are justified comes across. The ending of your blog seems like a bit of an add on and doesn’t really seem relevant to your over all argument. You had already stated at the beginning that it was a kids TV show which implies it’s audience so explaining near the end which networks it plays on doesn’t seem to fully connect. Aside from that, this dramastistic analysis was well done on an interesting topic, although that may be a biased opinion because I’m also a fan of the ninja turtles, but it just goes to show that even kids shows touch on complicated philosophical/moral issues as well as contain rhetorical purpose.

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