While it may not be widely known, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles do have a last name, and it is more significant than many TMNT fans would think.
The names Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael are immediately recognizable to the vast majority of the public as they belong to the four original members of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–though despite their name recognition, many fans might not know that they do, in fact, have a last name as well.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were first introduced in the Mirage Studios comic of the same name by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. In the original run, the TMNT were normal turtles who were mutated and then adopted by a mutated rat named Master Splinter. Splinter–back when he was a non-mutated rat–was the pet of a martial arts master named Hamato Yoshi who was killed by the Shredder. Before Yoshi was killed, Splinter learned a great deal from him simply by watching Hamato’s movements, and upon Splinter’s and the Turtles’ mutations, he passed that knowledge onto his adopted sons. While the original series explains that they became a found-family following their mutations, the history of Splinter and the Turtles doesn’t go back any further than a random meeting in the sewers of New York. However, in the newly established canon of IDW Publishing, the relationship between Splinter and the TMNT goes back far further, and holds much more significance on a cosmic scale.
In IDW Publishing’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, the Turtles weren’t just animals who were mutated and learned martial arts from a rat who was also mutated, they were actually the reincarnation of a family that was murdered long ago in feudal Japan by none other than the Shredder. This new series explains that the Shredder was an ancient conqueror and leader of TMNT’s Foot Clan in the past rather than a modern assassin like he was in the Mirage Studios version–and the family he murdered was that of Hamato Yoshi. While Mirage Studios’ Hamato Yoshi was merely the previous owner of Splinter before Shredder killed him, IDW’s version shows that Yoshi wasn’t the owner of Splinter–he was Splinter. In feudal Japan, Yoshi had four sons–all of whom were killed by the Shredder along with Yoshi himself. However, they wouldn’t stay that way, as centuries following that tragic event, Hamato Yoshi was reincarnated as a rat and his sons were reincarnated as four turtles–the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Last Name is ‘Hamato’
Throughout the recent IDW TMNT comic run, the Turtles have called themselves ‘the Hamato Clan’, but fans were most recently reminded of this moniker in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #134 by Sophie Campbell and Fero Pe with story consulting by Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz. In this issue, Donatello refers to himself and his brothers as the ‘Hamato Brothers’, which seems like a pretty insignificant comment due to the fact that fans already knew this information from previous issues, but actually carries with it a weight of incredible significance.
At this point in the series, Master Splinter is dead, and the Turtles have slowly grown apart since the formation of Mutant Town, so continuing the legacy of their original family name by calling themselves the ‘Hamato Brothers’ not only reinforces the fact that they do, in fact, have a last name, but that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a family with a bond that even time and space cannot break.