As a big fan of the animated series during my childhood, this really irked me about the movies. Now I'm grown up and my kids are watching the new 2012 animated series, of which I've seen a few, and we recently watched the new movie together.

In the animated series, Splinter's back story is that he was a human who was enemies with the Shredder. One day he was walking back from a pet shop with 4 turtles, when an accident with the mutagen caused him to be mutated into a rat-human hybrid due to interaction with a nearby rat, while the turtles were mutated into turtle-human hybrids because of their interaction with him. This is quite consistent with the new animated series.

The movies, on the other hand, have Splinter begin as a rat that is transformed into a human-rat hybrid by the mutagen (like the turtles).

Is there any official explanation for this? The movies seem a little more ludicrous to me because it's far less likely that a rat would master a martial art to the same/similar level as the Shredder, who has been a ninja his whole life, in just 18 years. And from reading books on it, no less (the first movie implies that he learned the martial art as a rat before being mutated, which is even more ludicrous).

  • 3
    I've never read any comment from the filmmakers, but in the original comic, Splinter was a rat owned by Hamato Yoshi. The animated series changed the origin story. The live-action version is more accurate to the original material on this subject.
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 20:31
  • @phantom42: I didn't know there was a comic, but that's interesting. I guess what I find most confusing is that the animated series reboot chose to stay true to the original animated series backstory, after the live-action film had gone in a different direction.
    – Andy E
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 22:49
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    I remember it as a really cool, dark comic and a kick-ass RPG. Then the animated series ruined it with the pizza and different colored masks...
    – Ben Plont
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 23:23
  • @BenPlont this "ruining" is what caused it to explode in popularity and why 99% of the people who know about it even know of the comic, and why Eastman and Laird are now filthy rich. The marketing guy they hired was right about those kid-friendly changes.
    – Domarius
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


Movies often change facts/events due to "artistic license", in that a director/screenplay writer has the authority to tell whatever story they want once they've licensed the characters name/likeness/storyline. An obvious example is the multiple stories of Batman every time it's rebooted, and the major differences between The Joker in all said reboots. Batman's own backstory was slightly changed in that the Burton version indicates that The Joker killed his parents, while the Nolan version indicates that the Mafia had something to do with it.

It's pretty common, though somewhat annoying to me as well.

  • Nolan's joker tells two vastly different stories regarding his scars (his drunk father cut him or he cut himself). Given how much he lies about everything through the movie, it's entirely likely that neither story is true.
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 20:36
  • True. But there's no indication that the "vat of acid" story from Burton's version is true either. And, honestly, their personalities are pretty different. A lot of people use the phrase "he's all about chaos" when describing the Heath Ledger version, whereas the Jack Nicholson version isn't like that at all. He's got a vendetta against Batman, because Batman caused his deformity. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 20:44

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