Longtime Ninja Turtles fans know these radical reptiles first began in a series of violent black-and-white issues from Mirage Comics. The 1987 cartoon helped transform the Turtles into a kid-friendly franchise, and because of this, they got an appropriately kid-friendly series of comics from Archie titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures. However, the Archie comics matured along with their young readers, leading to a series of crazy storylines that arguably peaked with the craziest plot twist of all: the Ninja Turtles effectively killed Adolf Hitler.
Weirdly enough, the Ninja Turtles’ battle against Adolf Hitler doesn’t begin in the past but in the distant future. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #62, we get an extended adventure involving some not-so-teenage Turtles. They live in a dystopian future America, and they sometimes don mechanical suits and fight crime as flying “Cyber Samurai.” One of the threats the group faces in this dark future is Armaggon, an evil mutant shark who causes all manner of trouble after stealing and enhancing Donatello’s timeslip-generator.
To this day, these issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures remain very controversial, but we enjoyed seeing the darker side of the Turtles unleashed in the craziest possible storyline.
Beginning in issue #62, Donatello is trying to repair his timeslip-generator and otherwise figure out what Armaggon did by adding some “funky stuff” to the device. One of the more mysterious items is a living brain, and in an insane twist of events, it turns out to be the brain of Adolf Hitler. Using the Ninja Turtles’ time machine like a television set, the brain sees what happened in Berlin during World War II and that the Nazis lost the war.
When we next see Adolf Hitler’s brain (a phrase we never thought we’d use when discussing a children’s comic book), it now has robotic legs and arms, the latter of which it uses to crush the life out of any Resistance members that it comes across.
Future Leonardo demonstrates how different he is from the strait-laced leader we grew up reading by essentially pulling a fatal prank on Hitler.
After Donatello notices the time-slip generator has been turned on and some of his things are missing, he and the other Ninja Turtles (minus an injured Michaelangelo) travel back to 1945 Berlin. Things quickly go south when they are assaulted by Nazi soldiers who are being led by both the present Adolf Hitler and his future brain.
Things were looking grim for the Ninja Turtles: Adolf Hitler’s brain was about to begin fighting Donatello, but it ended up getting destroyed by Allied bombs. Meanwhile, the Turtles had knocked out the Nazi soldiers, leaving the present-time Adolf Hitler alive and well. This gives Raphael the chance to do his best Captain America impersonation by punching out the Fuhrer, telling the “perv” that “this small gesture is for the millions.”
At this point, you might expect that the Ninja Turtles’ conflict with Adolf Hitler was at an end. But before they can timeslip back to the future, the dictator confronts them with a gun. This is when future Leonardo demonstrates how different he is from the strait-laced leader we grew up reading by essentially pulling a fatal prank on Hitler.
Once the Ninja Turtles realize Hitler thinks they are demons, Leonardo flatly tells the German leader, “welcome to Hell.” Upon hearing this, Hitler asks whether the Turtles “have come for my soul,” prompting Leonardo to tell him, “We already own your soul, fool…We have come for your brain.”
This was true enough: they were actively taking Hitler’s brain to the future. Hitler replies, “You shall not take my mind,” and the last thing the Turtles see before heading back to the future is the world’s most evil man blowing his brains out.
Some Ninja Turtles fans might claim that Leonardo didn’t kill Hitler: he didn’t pull the trigger, after all, and didn’t even really alter the timeline except for the small fact that Hitler killed himself outside his bunker.
However, it was Leonardo who went out of his way to make Hitler think he was already in hell, had already had his soul captured, and was about to have his mind taken from him as well. Moreover, Raphael excitedly exclaims, “mission accomplished!” when they get back to the future and brags about Leonardo’s demon impression, darkly implying that killing Hitler was just a fun bonus on top of their primary brain-retrieval mission.
To this day, these issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures remain very controversial, but we enjoyed seeing the darker side of the Turtles unleashed in the craziest possible storyline. As much as we might wish to see it, though, we doubt Mutant Mayhem 2 will show our favorite Ninjas getting Hitler to commit suicide through the power of persuasion. In the meantime, we’ll just be over here hoping our Baldur’s Gate 3 persuasion attempts are even half as good as Leonardo’s.