Leonardo (TMNT)

Leonardo (TMNT)

OR=December 2007
in-universe=December 2007
copyedit=July 2007
unreferenced=December 2007

caption= Leonardo, the leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
character_name= Leonardo
publisher= Mirage Studios
debut= "Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #1
(May, 1984)
creators= Kevin Eastman
Peter Laird
full_name= Leonardo
affiliations= Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
aliases= Leo
Fearless Leader
Ghost of the Jungle|powers= Highly skilled in Ninjutsu.
Olympic-level agility, speed and strength.
Keen strategist.
Master of stealth.
Mastery of kenjutsu and iaidō. Master swordsman.
voiceactor=TMNT (2003) Mike Sinterniklaas (USA)
Cezary Kwieciński (Poland)
Tetsuya Kakihara (Japan)|

Leonardo (or Leo), a fictional character, is one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). He is distinguished by a blue bandanna (although originally all four Turtles had red bandannas) and his weapons are two ninjaken (literally "ninja sword"), which are universally referred to in the TMNT universe as katana. Leonardo takes after his sensei, Splinter, in taking ninjutsu very seriously. He spends much of his free time in practice and meditation. He has a strong sense of honor, and is a strict follower of the Bushidō code. He often speaks for his brothers and tries to keep them in line, making him the de facto leader of the team, and often the lead protagonist of various TMNT stories. In the fourth feature film, "TMNT", Leonardo is stated to be the eldest of his brothers, although the relative ages of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are not officially stated.

Comic books character history

Mirage Studios

In Volume 1 of the original comic series by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, Leonardo plays an important role. At the beginning of the series, he is fifteen. In the early stories he is not explicitly referred to as the leader of the turtles, though he usually speaks for the team. Further in the series he openly states his position as leader to Raphael in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #44," 1992. He is the team's primarily strategist (except in situations related to technology, Donatello's field). In "Leonardo #1", Leonardo goes out for a run on the rooftops of New York City and is ambushed by the Foot Clan. He puts up an admirable fight against the Foot soldiers but is eventually overwhelmed by them and rendered seriously injured and nearly unconscious. In "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #11", when the four turtles, Splinter, April O'Neil and Casey Jones retreat to a farm house in Northampton, Leonardo recovers physically but seems despondent and lacking confidence. He repeatedly attempts, unsuccessfully, to hunt for deer. While out hunting he sees April fall through ice into a lake, and he rescues her. In all subsequent issues it is implied that Leonardo has regained most of his confidence. In the storyline, "Return to New York," ("Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #19-21"), Raphael demands that the turtles return to New York to confront the Foot Clan and Shredder, accusing Leonardo of cowardice. The two argue and soon come to blows. Leonardo is beaten by Raphael, who leaves alone. Donatello and Michaelangelo return to New York shortly thereafter with Leonardo. The four Turtles infiltrate the Foot Clan headquarters, where once again Raphael goes off on his own to confront Shredder only to be subdued by Foot Elite Guards. Leonardo rescues his brother, and Raphael cedes to Leonardo's leadership, leaving Leonardo to fight Shredder and kill him by decapitation. In the "City at War" storyline ("Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #50-62") a feud between various factions of the Foot Clan over leadership is fought on the streets of New York with the Turtles and the civilian populace caught in the middle. In the story Leonardo grows weary of constant battle with the Foot Clan and seems fraught with indecision. The Turtles are approached by Karai, the leader of the Foot Clan in Japan who has come to New York to unite the Foot. She presents the Turtles with an offer of a truce between the Foot and the Turtles if they help her kill Shredder's Elite Guards which are a major obstacle to her reorganizing the Foot. Leonardo persuades his brothers to accept Karai's offer (much to Raphael's chagrin) and all four Turtles work with Karai to eliminate the Elite Guards. In Volume 2 of the Mirage Studios comic, the turtles begin living in separate places. Leonardo decides to live in a newfound sewer lair. Michaelangelo and Raphael notice a change in Leonardo and note that he seems more easygoing, though Raphael points out that his and Leonardo's natural order is to be "buttin' heads." In Volume 4, the conflict between Leonardo and Raphael seems to be greatly lessened as both characters have "mellowed," being in their thirties. Leonardo has a new rival in the Foot Clan, member Cha Ocho, which stems from an encounter the two had years prior. After much of the Foot Clan throughout the world is wiped out by a mysterious warrior leaving only the New York branch intact, Leonardo works with them and Karai to subdue the warrior.

Image Comics

Leonardo was given a similar personality in the Image comic books to his Mirage counterpart. HIn the latter issues of the series he lost a hand, although this did not seem to deter him significantly. He tried initially to use a prosthetic hand which was given to him by Donatello but he much preferred to wear a steel cap which came with a retractable blade. In the current Mirage series, this and other events in the Image Comics series are treated as non-canon, though the series is referred to as fans as "Volume 3".

Archie Comics

In the Archie comic series, Leonardo had a rather strong dislike for all forms of firearms. Also, a future version of Leonardo was depicted, having founded a ninja school. Four of his top students were depicted, Nobuko, possibly his love interest; Miles, a young black man; Carmen, a Latino woman; and Bob, an anthropomorphic baboon. These students seemed to have an "extended family" relationship with the Turtles, Bob in particular referring to them as uncles.


1987 animated series

In the 1987 TV series' theme song lyrics, Leonardo is said outright to be the leader of the TMNT, and there is little disputing this; his orders are usually followed, and he is a very serious do-gooder who hardly ever makes wise cracks. In one episode, he suffered a crisis of confidence and left the group to do some soul searching; his brothers all tried their hands at being the leader in his stead, only to find that none of them could match his leadership skills, and he came back to them. He was attracted to a young kunoichi named Lotus, a swordswoman prodigy from Japan who was hired by Krang to replace Shredder, whom she easily defeated (along with Rocksteady and Bebop). She and Leonardo dueled to a standstill before she resorted to a trick sword to knock him out. When they met the second time, she tried to convince him to join her as "ninjas for hire", but he refused. She turned on Krang and escaped to continue her mercenary lifestyle, telling Leonardo that there was little good in goodness, though she hoped that they would one day be on the same side. This is the only version of the TMNT mythos where Leonardo does not have his sibling rivalry with Raphael. When the cartoon series starts out, he is shown with having a very level head, akin to his leadership qualities in the comic. However, as the series carried on, he became more reactionary and at times would screech in the very high pitched voice, which was very different from the original, deeper pitch in the first season. This presumably may have been the result of the writers downplaying Leonardo as a hero in favor of Michelangelo and Raphael, who were more popular with audiences. Leonardo also seems to enjoy reading. For example, many times when the Turtles are at home, Leo is reading a book. In the episode "Four Musketurtles", he is the only Turtle that read The Three Musketeers. Another good example is in "Leonardo is Missing"; while the other Turtles go to an arcade, Leonardo stays at the lair and reads a book.

In the season 3 episode "Take Me to Your Leader", Leonardo gives up his leadership anad walks away after a dream he belives convinces him he is no loger a good leader. The other have to find him, and stop Shredder, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady from draining energy from the Sun with a "Solar Siphon" and store it in solar batteries. However, Leonardo returns when he spots a bridge collapsing due to a lof of snow. After a man saying that everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything, Leonardo realizes his responsibility and begins to search for his brothers. He later finds them, and together they save the Earth.

In the season 6 episode "Snakes Alive", it is revealed that Leonardo has a big fear of snakes, but confronted it later. This is seemingly the only incarnation of the TMNT in which Leonardo's swords are curved, possibly due to problems with animation, thus the term katana could be used. In the original English language version of the 1987 cartoon show, Leonardo's voice actor was Cam Clarke (who also voiced Rocksteady). Leonardo is generally considered to be Clarke's "breakout role" and is still one of his best known parts.

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation

In 1997-1998, Leonardo along with the other Ninja Turtles were featured in a short-lived live-action series. He also carried one double bladed ninjaken instead of two. His sibling rivalry with Raphael drove many episodes. In one episode where they were sparring, Raphael took advantage of Leo's apparent physical weakening, insulting, mocking and taunting his brother to make him more reckless, until finally Leo lost his temper and angrily kicked Raph so hard that he sent Raph flying across the sewer den; they spent the rest of the episode arguing and challening each other to tests of skill (some of them quite absurd) until finally using arm wrestling to decide who would live in the sewer and who would leave. Although Leo won, it was decided that Raph should stay.

2003 series

In the new Mirage Studios and 4Kids Entertainment 2003 animated TV series, Leonardo is voiced by Mike Sinterniklaas. He is the de facto leader of the group and the most "spiritual" of the four TMNT. He has a very close bond with Splinter, and has a strong sense of honor, ethics and Bushido. Leonardo's twin swords are slung across his back. Episodes that deal with the Shredder and honor usually also focus on Leonardo, and he is often the Turtle who "saves the day." Leonardo is a more sensitive, self-doubting character than in previous incarnations. Raphael often quarrels with him and resents his leadership, sarcastically calling Leonardo "Fearless Leader", although the two are shown to be very close at times. Though Leonardo's relationships with his other brothers Michelangelo and Donatello are not as volatile, both have made comments alluding to the high standards the former has set, and his tendency to make them look bad. Despite this, his brothers view him as a pillar of strength and are at a loss when he is injured or absent. One of Leonardo's most prominent qualities is his determination to believe the best in people, even potential enemies (i.e., Karai, Traximus and Quarry). In the Japanese version, Leonardo is voiced by Tetsuya Kakihara, best known for voicing Lævatein and Graf Eisen of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. At times, Leonardo is shown to be very hard on himself, as he feels that a lot is expected of him. As in the Mirage comics, Leonardo is ambushed and seriously injured by the Foot Clan and he feels he let his family and himself down. He has the same feelings after the final battle with the Shredder - his anger and self-doubt was caused by Karai, whom he believed was an honorable ally, but she was unable to go against her master's evil orders, eventually causing her to stab Leonardo (albeit unintentionally). Leonardo also feels extremely inadequate, as he believes that again, he let himself and his family down, this time by finding no other way to destroy the Shredder than to blow up the spaceship that both the Shredder and the Turtles were on; the Turtles and Splinter would have perished if they had not been rescued by Utroms. Eventually, Leonardo finds inner peace under the guidance of the Ancient One, who trained Splinter's sensei, Hamato Yoshi. From their final battle with the Shredder, Leonardo was the only turtle to sustain truly lasting damage; part of his shell on his upper left shoulder had its edge shorn off. Nevertheless, he is arguably the most skilled of the Turtles, being the only one trained by two senseis and is capable of facing and defeating Karai, the new Shredder, in a one-on-one fight. In addition, he bested and very nearly caused serious injury to Splinter when he lost his temper after the final battle with the original Shredder (it was in the same episode that Raphael stated "I hate it when he reminds me of me.").

In the fifth season, of the eight acolytes under the Tribunal's training, Leonardo is the only one who doesn't receive a weapon from the Spirit Forge. No real explanation is given for this, although it is possible that because his swords were reforged in the Battle Nexus, he already possessed a weapon capable of fighting the Demon Shredder, thus he didn't need one from the Spirit Forge. His otherworldly form is that of a dragon, a rare form, unheard of in someone his age. It is shown destroying all the evil guarding the second artifact. This avatar is first shown in "More Worlds Than One". His brothers later exhibit dragon avatars as well. In the fifth episode "Beginning of the End", he is given the sword "Gunshin" (one of the Fangs of the Dragon that commands the "White Flame of the Dragon King") by the dying Feragi. He returns Gunshin in episode 12 "Enter the Dragons" when Feragi returns to help battle the Shredder.

In the Fast Forward season, and the Back to the Sewers season the damage that occurred to Leonardo's shell as stated above has somehow been repaired.


In the first three TMNT movies, Leonardo was fairly modest and sensitive, rarely issuing direct commands; he also joked around with his brothers much more than in other versions of the TMNT. It was he who first communicated telepathically with a kidnapped Splinter in the first movie, but he was not ambushed by the Foot Clan (Raphael was), nor did he kill the Shredder. However, he is the only one of the four turtles to successfully injure Shredder during their climactic battle. He was acted by David Forman and voiced by Brian Tochi.

In both and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, his actor was Mark Caso and he was voiced again by Brian Tochi.

In the Fourth TMNT film, Leo was sent away by Master Splinter to hone his skills in becoming a more efficient leader after Shredder's defeat. April finds him in Central America, and while he was hesitant to return to New York City, he does at the right time to take on the dangerous new force of evil. His relationship with Raphael is strained due to Raphael feeling abandoned by Leo as well as feeling less loved by Splinter. Leonardo's vision of the world is perhaps also wider than Raphael's; in the first movie prequel comic, Leo becomes angry with Raphael for trying to leave them in order to save a man from being mugged, because there are four heavily armed Triceratons in the sewers who could cause devastation to the city. He becomes further angered when Raphael deserts them mid-battle to help the old man get home safely. This conflict suggests that the two brothers operate on different levels of morality, though neither is necessarily wrong. Raphael states in the comic that he was tired of waiting for disaster to fall on his family, and tired of fighting aliens while people in their own neighborhood are being mugged and murdered. Leonardo, on the other hand, believes that the world of men is the responsibility of the police, while Utroms and Triceratons are their domain, and that they should fight only when there is no one else who could solve the problem. This also engages Leo in a contradiction when he stays in Central America, using violence to fight local lawlessness and effectively deserting his brothers because he believes, as Raphael believes, that others need him more. Such parallels suggest that the two brothers are experiencing the same dedication to justice but in different mentality, albeit in very different locales and using different tactics. In the TMNT CGI movie, Raphael challenges Leonardo after arguing of their own individual sense of justice and the reasons for their actions, Leo also discovers that Raphael is the Nightwatcher, and they engage in a fight. Distracted when Raphael breaks his swords he is pinned to the floor. Raphael almost kills Leo, then retreats due to his brother's deep and confused stare. Leonardo is captured by the War Generals and Foot Clan but is rescued by his family later before the final battle where Leonardo and Raphael finally resolve their differences, Raphael accepting Leo as their leader while Leonardo confesses to needing Raphael. Leonardo is voiced by James Arnold Taylor in this film.

Video games

In the video games, Leonardo is the first turtle of choice. He is popular especially for beginner players of the TMNT games. Leonardo is portrayed as the well-balanced fighter, having, in all areas, strong but not extreme abilities and no glaring weaknesses. His range is rather long, but not as long as Donatello's; however, Leonardo can usually inflict more damage. In the "Tournament Fighters" games, his moves are the closest to as Ryu/Ken archetype from the "Street Fighter" franchise.

ee also

*Donatello (TMNT)
*Raphael (TMNT)
*Michelangelo (TMNT)
*Splinter (TMNT)

External links

* [http://www.ninjaturtles.com/html/profile2.htm Leonardo profile on TMNT official web site]

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