“Gritty, R-Rated” ‘Ninja Turtles’ Movie Synopsis Explained

in Movies & TV

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' (1990) official poster - turtles lifting the manhole cover

Credit: New Line Cinema

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the sewers after the family-friendly 3D-animated reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023), a brand-new, R-rated reboot is about to “shell-shock” an entire generation of TMNT fans.

The Ninja Turtles franchise is often compared to Batman, as it can operate at both ends of the rating spectrum and still have mass appeal. Of course, there hasn’t been an adult-themed movie set in the TMNT universe, but many comic books that have spanned the last 40 years have continued with the grungy style of the original 1980s’ Mirage Comics era.

But now, that’s all set to change, as the half-shell heroes are finally about to show fans what it really means to be “the world’s most fearsome fighting team.” Well, one of them, at least.

The Ninja Turtles looking menacing on a rooftop in 'Mutant Mayhem'
Credit: Nickelodeon Movies / Paramount Pictures

Related: R-Rated ‘TMNT’ Movie Everything We Know: Plot, Cast, Trailer, Release Date, and More

In April, Paramount confirmed that a movie adaptation of the ongoing comic book series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin” (2020 — present) from IDW Publishing is in development. Boy Kills World (2024) writer Tyler Burton Smith is penning the script and former head of DC Films Walter Hamada is producing through his 18hz company.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, the film will “go into gritty, R-rated territory” to appeal to “The Last Ronin” crowd (most of whom are original TMNT fans). The comics have proven incredibly popular since they arrived in 2020, spawning two follow-ups with “Lost Years” and “Re-Evolution,” as well as a video game adaptation that’s currently in development.

Nothing else has been confirmed, so we don’t know who’s directing (we’re hoping it’s the director of the John Wick films, Chad Stahelski) and we don’t know if CG motion capture will be used for the Turtles like in the two Michael Bay-produced films, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016).

Donatello headshot from 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Related: ‘TMNT: The Last Ronin’ Trailer Breakdown

TMNT: The Last Ronin Synopsis Explained

But while we know very little about the production aspect of the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie, we know enough about the premise. Of course, movie adaptations often take liberties, so it’s very likely Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin (TBA) will make significant changes to the source material, but the “bare-bones” premise will remain the same.

IDW’s “The Last Ronin” is separate from the publisher’s main TMNT comic books (which are currently undergoing a soft relaunch with Marvel and DC writer Jason Aaron). It takes place in a dystopian future where a lone surviving Ninja Turtle has set out on a one-way mission to avenge the deaths of his three brothers and father Master Splinter.

His family fell during a time of unrest between the Hamato Clan (Splinter and his four Turtle sons) and the Foot Clan, led by The Shredder and his daughter, Karai.

IDW Publishing's 'TMNT: The Last Ronin'
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Will One of These Actresses Play April O’Neil In the Live-Action ‘Ninja Turtles’ Reboot?!

The story is as bleak and as gritty as it sounds, as the last Turtle in question (whose identity we won’t spoil, even if it is revealed at the end of #1) is haunted by the ghosts of his brothers (quite literally, in a sense, as he’s seemingly hallucinating), and deals with post-traumatic stress disorder, imposter syndrome, depression, and thoughts of self-harm.

The unnamed “Last Ronin” is after one man: Oroku Hiroto, the grandson of the Turtles’ iconic nemesis, The Shredder. Hiroto rules a futuristic New York City with an iron fist, using technology in the form of android law enforcers known as “Synjbots” to aid him. But during his vengeful killing spree, the Turtle meets an old friend in April O’Neil.

Of course, as the story is set some twenty or so years in the future, April is older and bears the scars of war with two prosthetic limbs. The former news reporter/scientist lives in the old Ninja Turtles sewer lair with her daughter Casey Marie (her father is the hockey stick-wielding vigilante Casey Jones, who was killed long ago with the three Turtles and Splinter).

Michelangelo fighting the Synjabots in 'TMNT: The Last Ronin' game trailer
Credit: Nickelodeon / THQ Nordic / Black Forest Games

Related: ‘TMNT’ Film Series Officially Dead in the Water as New Reboot Takes Over

The Last Ronin joins a bastion of (literal) underground rebels who share his goal: to take down Hiroto. The Turtle soon becomes a mentor to Casey Marie, whom he begins to train in the ways of the Ninja, just as he was taught by his father and sensei, Splinter.

The story continues in “Lost Years,” the one-shot comic “Lost Day,” and “Re-Evolution,” but the film will likely focus entirely on “The Last Ronin,” although it may be split into two or three parts, which continues to be a common trend in film these days.

“The Last Ronin,” “Lost Years,” “Lost Day,” and “Re-Evolution #1” are on sale now.

'TMNT: The Last Ronin' cover art
Credit: IDW Publishing

Other TMNT Media

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem 2 (2026) will be released in theaters on October 9, 2026. The 2D animated follow-up series Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2024) streams on Paramount+ on April 26, and a video game sequel titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants Unleashed (TBA) is also in development.

Another TMNT video game titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants (2024), a reboot of the 2017 arcade-style game of the same name, will hit shelves later this year. There’s no release date for The Last Ronin video game.

Meanwhile, IDW Publishing has renewed its deal with Paramount to continue releasing TMNT comic books. New stories include Nightwatcher, Mutant Nation, Alpha, and Black, White, and Green.

Are you excited about The Last Ronin movie? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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