Donatello (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

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Donatello (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).jpg
Textless Planet Awesome exclusive cover variant of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #98.
Art by series co-creator Kevin Eastman.
Publication information
PublisherMirage Studios (1984–1995, 2001–2010)[1]
Image Comics (1996–1999)
IDW Publishing (2011–present)
First appearanceTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May 1984)
Created byKevin Eastman
Peter Laird
In-story information
SpeciesMutant turtle
AbilitiesMastery of ninjutsu, Naginata and , kobudō, and Chi Gong, and stealth
Olympic-level agility, speed, and strength
Genius-level intellect
Scientist, engineer and inventor

Donatello, nicknamed Don or Donnie, is a fictional superhero and one of the four main characters of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and all related media.[2][3] He is the smartest and often gentlest of his brothers, bearing a purple mask over his eyes. He wields a staff, his primary signature weapon in all media.

He is the adoptive and mutated son of Master Splinter, as well as the younger brother of Leonardo and Raphael, and older brother of Michelangelo. He is the third eldest/second youngest brother of the turtles, and second-in-command of the team. A common trait in the franchise is that he is the tallest ninja turtle, demonstrated in the original comics (however very slightly), the IDW comics, the DC crossover film, the 2014 reboot, and most notably, in the 2012 animated series. Donnie often speaks in technobabble with a natural aptitude for science and technology. His ninja skills are the lowest of the four turtles; as he relies on gadgets over combat skills. Like all of the brothers, he is named after a Renaissance artist; in this case, he is named after Italian sculptor Donatello.[4] He is the favorite turtle of co-creator Peter Laird, who served as the basis of Donatello's personality.


Mirage Comics[edit]

In the comics, Donatello is depicted as the calmest turtle. While the comics' portrayal of the team has no official command structure, in the early stories he is depicted as the next in command, and the closest brother to Leonardo. In the first issue, he is the one that killed the Shredder by knocking him and his grenade off the roof. The second issue elaborated more on each turtles' personalities and opened with Donatello soldering a circuit. Later in the issue, Donatello states that he is "familiar with some computer systems" and helps April O'Neil deactivate the Mousers. During the turtles' exile to Northampton, Donatello becomes obsessed with fixing up and repairing the many broken things within the farmhouse they were living in. Most notably he spent days and nights fixing the boiler to give his family hot running water and builds a windmill and a water wheel to provide electricity. He also finds an old typewriter and writes his own personal credo.

In the Donatello one shot, Donatello encounters an artist called Kirby (an homage to the comic artist Jack Kirby) whose mysterious crystal brings his drawings to life before disappearing. The two newfound friends journey to a dimension inhabited by Kirby's creations and help the heroes defeat the invading monsters.

In the Shades of Grey storyline, Casey Jones encounters the turtle by a ravine as he was pondering "the fractal structure of natural patterns". Casey accuses the turtle of using big words and acting better than everyone else. Donatello suggests they should continue the conversation when Casey is sober. Grabbing a stick, an angry Jones continually pokes the turtle until he loses his temper and sends Casey careening into the water.

In the City at War storyline, the turtles return to New York to put an end to the Foot Clan's civil war. During a battle with Shredder's Elite Guards in the ruins of the Second Time Around Shop, Donatello falls through the floor and breaks his leg. Seeing their ally Karai subdued and about to be killed, Donatello grabs one of the Foot's machine guns and repeatedly shoots the Foot Elite. Donatello is visibly shaken by the violence and throws the gun away. At the end of the story the turtles, April and Casey move back to New York save for Donatello who chooses to stay in Northampton with Master Splinter to heal from his injury as well as reflect on everything that had happened. After encountering the turtle vigilante ally Nobody in civilian guise he returns with him to New York to help his brothers battle Baxter Stockman.

In the current comics, Donatello finds an armored truck in the sewers which apparently had been part of a bank robbery in the sixties. Along with Raphael and Casey Jones, he undertakes the task of fixing up the vehicle. Donatello decides to accompany the Utroms on a mission to Tepui to search for two missing research teams. The group are attacked by strange wooden creatures who shrink them to miniature size. The creatures turn out to be a group of Utroms which had been stranded in the Jungle during their first stay on Earth and had been living in secret thanks to their Quantum Inversion Redimensioning device which could alter their size. The process could not be reversed on Donatello, possibly due to his mutation, leaving him the size of an action figure. While the Utroms work on returning him to normal, Donatello put his new size to use infiltrating a terrorist organizations warehouse. He's also made a robotic body for him made to resemble a turtle to help him move around.

This incarnation of Donatello appeared in the Turtles Forever crossover special voiced by Christopher C. Adams.

Image Comics[edit]

In the Image Comics incarnation of the TMNT, he became a cyborg after his body was partially destroyed after he was shot and dropped out of a helicopter (he maintained a positive attitude nonetheless, although he was constantly at risk of losing his mind to the cyborg half). He was almost killed by Image character Deathwatch by having his brain drained of mutagen, while assailing with mental torture tactics. Leonardo blamed the CPU of his injured brother's armor for his subsequent brain death; however, Donatello wasn't dead but was somehow separated from his body, and with the help of his brothers he returned to his body. In the independent published series of the Image Comics, Issue #24, Don's armor began to malfunction and was so powerful Donatello was on his last legs until he made a deal with Baxter Stockman who Don was reluctant to work with but had no choice. Donatello is rid of most of his body metal by issue #25 and Baxter informs him his shell had regrown and as a result he was back to being a non-cyborg turtle. Baxter died once more when Don's metal particles wouldn't help restore his body; as a result Baxter requested Donatello give April O'Neil his regards and he died laughing maniacally. Donatello then went on to battle Lady Shredder and the foot clan with his brothers and Pimiko. Donatello was then by the end of the issue completely rid of all metal particles and had kept his and Baxter's ordeal a secret.

In the official IDW-published conclusion, TMNT Urban Legends, after Dr. X activated an EMP, the living armor abandoned Donatello for a new host, where it was discovered the armor had been impeding Donatello's natural healing abilities.

Archie Comics[edit]

Donatello's appearance in the Archie publications were largely based on the 1987 Fred Wolf incarnation, but with Mirage writers on board at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures such as Steve Murphy and Ryan Brown, a lot of references to his Mirage counterpart were made. Donatello was showcased to be pure of heart and soul, being able to pass through the Netherworld unscathed. He was also chosen of the Turtles by a group of Aliens known as the Sons of Silence to share their wisdom. He was one of the few who could telepathically communicate with them. Donatello was almost a pacifist, detesting every time he used violence.

IDW Publishing[edit]

In a shocking twist, Donatello was nearly killed at the end of issue #44 when Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo were on a mission to stop Krang from transforming the Earth using an alien device called the "Technodrome". Donatello was left at the home base, and while the others were away, he was attacked by Bebop and Rocksteady. After a brief fight, Rocksteady smashed Donatello's shell, nearly killing him.

The news of his supposed death spread all over the interview and IGN conducted an interview with script writer Tom Waltz, where he called the final scene a beautiful rendered scene, catching the emotion of the family. He also claimed there was no earthly way that Donatello could survive, but at the same time, he said it wasn't the end of him and his career.

In Issue #45, Donatello wasn't dead as his spirit was in an alternate plane and he was barely clinging to life. Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael carried Donatello's body into the freezer to slow down the bleeding and increase his chance of survival. Fugitoid says he needs to go to Burrow Island to get the equipment to save Donatello. Splinter finds Donatello's spirit and guides his son back to earth, however, due to Donatello wearing a helmet to keep his consciousness alive, his mind is in Metalhead, while his own body is being restored to how it was before his near demise.

In Issue #46, In Harold's lab, Donatello-as-Metalhead finishes prepping his body to be moved to the lair. He's trying his best to put on a brave face (so to speak), but being trapped in a robot body has been an upsetting experience. The Fugitoid tries to help Donnie adapt to having his mind in a robot body while Harold sees to Metalhead’s repairs (the robot having been trashed by Bebop and Rocksteady). Raphael storms off with Alopex following behind him. Raphael starts regretting leaving Donatello behind and seeing him in a robot body is too much for Raphael to handle, but as soon as Alopex and Leonardo give him some comfort he eventually accepts Donatello as Metalhead and he, Leo and Mikey go on patrol while Donatello and the Fugitoid transfer Donnie's turtle body to the lair of the turtles while Harold gets some equipment to help Donatello get back into his own body.

In issue #47, He mentioned to Fugitoid and Harold he is connected to his body's vital signs. Indicating he could still feel his body and was slowly getting back to normal. In issue #50, Metalhead self-destructed and Donatello returned to his organic body which has now been outfitted with an artificial shell. Since then he's been fighting alongside his brothers.


Donatello is a gifted scientist and mathematician. He does a lot of work with vehicles, technology, and experiments. Any science and math skill you can think of, he will do it all. Donatello is not as rowdy and violent as his brothers, but he can get a little annoyed with them on occasion. However he never loses his temper. Donatello is calm, sensible, quiet, friendly, and gentle. He doesn't get into a lot confrontations with his brothers. He is more interested in his work than in his ninjutsu but he still attends to ninja practice and works hard there as well as his projects.


  • The 1987 animated television series: Donatello is the genius of the group who invents many of the turtles' vehicles and equipment including the Turtle Van, the Turtle Blimp and the Turtle Com. He’s the calmer turtle out of the 4 turtles. Donatello made many revolutionary inventions, the most notable being the portable portal capable of opening gateways to other dimensions as well as an early warning system which warns of impending attacks from other dimensions or from Krang and Shredder. In the 1987 series Donatello's voice actor is Barry Gordon with Greg Berg as the 1989 alternate voice actor. In the 25th anniversary movie Turtles Forever, Donatello was voiced by Anthony Haden Salerno. Gordon reprised the role of the 1987 Donatello in five episodes of the 2012 TV series, "Wormquake!", "Trans-Dimensional Turtles" and the three part series final "Wanted: Bebop & Rocksteady".[5]
  • The 1990 TMNT: Coming Out of Their Shells would have its first show broadcast from Radio City Music Hall on Pay Per View and later released on VHS. Donatello would be depicted as playing both a portable electric keyboard and in some iterations of the show after this initial show, a keyboard guitar. He was also depicted as having constructed all of the Turtles instruments. The Making Of VHS tape, which was set in the fictional 'universe' of the concert, depicted the Turtles as real people, and expanded on Donatello's interest in electronics, and confirms the concert's claim that he constructed the Turtles' instruments. He is also shown helping backstage during the construction of the set for the inaugural show.
  • 1997 live-action series: Donatello appeared in the live-action series, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, as well as the crossover episode of Power Rangers in Space portrayed by Richard Yee and voiced by Jason Gray-Stanford.
  • 2003 animated series: Donatello "Don" is the brains of the bunch. Like the Mirage comics, Donatello has a mixed personality in the 2003 animated series. However he's more pacifistic in this incarnation. Donatello is voiced by Sam Riegel. His skin color is a medium olive green color; this particular color is only used for him in the 2003 animation. In the fourth season, during an outbreak of mutations of people and animals in New York, Donatello got a nasty gash by a monster while fighting several monsters with his brothers. Then in the episode two-part episode "Return of Savanti", Donatello ended up coming down with the sniffles. Later in the episode "Adventures in Turtlesitting", he went from a turtle who was home ill with the flu to a monster himself as a result of being infected by the outbreak. A similar situation happened with Raphael in the comics. In the seventh season, also called "Back to the Sewer", Donatello blamed himself for Master Splinter's decompiling and vowed to restore his bits from cyberspace. This obsession caused him to disregard anything else, such as the gang war between the Foot Clan and the Purple Dragons, as unimportant. It wasn't until seeing his brothers in danger from the Cyber Shredder did he realize he was ignoring his responsibilities to help them and promised not to let his obsession with saving Master Splinter take control again. By the time of Turtles Forever, the 2003 Donatello is in total disbelief over the scientific aptitude of his 1987 counterpart, in which the alternate Donatello replied, "Science isn't all about facts you know", although the two still manage to work together to track their enemies.
Donatello, as depicted in the 2012 Nickelodeon series.
  • 2012 animated series: Donatello returns in Nickelodeon's new 2012 animated series, now wielding a bō staff which converts to a naginata (Japanese halberd). In this version, Donatello has a crush on April O'Neil (who is also in teenage years in this adaptation). Despite Donatello being quiet, sensitive, and friendly, he also can be sarcastic and is here more prone to panicking and losing his temper. Donatello is active and purpose-driven, but at times does not understand and/or has a hard time grasping the lectures of Master Splinter. A running gag is Raphael scolding or hitting him whenever he explains something in scientific terms. His character design was also updated, giving him a gap in his teeth and a taller, leaner appearance than his brothers. Donnie is voiced by Rob Paulsen (who was Raph's original voice actor in the 1987 animated series).[6] Also in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he has burgundy eyes.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Donatello returns once again in the 2018 series Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Josh Brener voices "Donatello, an unflappable mechanical genius and tech wizard whose ninja skills are second only to his coding."[7] This incarnation of Donatello is more confident, sociable, level-headed, and sarcastic, and wields a high-tech bō staff modified by rocket boosters.


Original trilogy (1990-1993)[edit]

In the first three live action films, like Michelangelo, Donatello is more childish than he was in the Mirage comics and the 1987 animated series, as he is shown joking around more. The first movie never officially identifies Donatello as the group's resident "whiz kid", though he is occasionally shown tinkering with various devices and is seen to have a vast knowledge of obscure topics (he is shown to be a master at 'Trivial Pursuit' when playing against the other Turtles and later astutely labels Casey Jones a claustrophobic). He takes his time deciding on the most appropriate victory cheers, though his choices are sometimes quite perplexing (for example, "Bossa Nova!"). However, the second film clearly established Donatello as the most scientifically-minded turtle as well as the most introspective, feeling dejected when he learns that the ooze that created the Turtles only exists because of an accident, although Splinter consoles his dejection by pointing out that the circumstances of their origins cannot define their present worth.

The first film plays up the relationship between him and Casey Jones; in all other versions of the TMNT, Raphael, not Donatello, is closest to Casey, except for the 1987 cartoon, in which Jones does not figure prominently. This is apparently because the scene in which Donatello and Casey bond over the fixing of an old pickup truck was based on a similar scene involving Casey and Raphael in the Mirage comics. Corey Feldman famously provides Donatello's voice in the first and third live-action films, Ernie Reyes Jr. does all of the martial arts fight scenes and stunt scenes as Donatello, while Adam Carl filled in for the second movie during Feldman's stint in rehabilitation. In the third film, Donatello is the only Turtle who is not tempted to stay in the Feudal Japan of the past, saying that he can't live without technology. The films also portray Donatello as being close with Michelangelo, bantering with him during fight sequences, going off to the side when Leo and Raph are arguing, and in general hanging out in their spare time.

TMNT (2007)[edit]

In the 2007 film, Donatello runs an IT tech support line to earn money for the family and keeps an eye on Mikey. In the first half of the movie Donatello's skills are more focused on keeping the family together and on income than instead of inventing inventions and finding creative ways to solve problems. It is a combined effort of Leo being gone, Raph unable to control his temper and Donnie's leadership and logically minded skills that add up-to the reason as why he's been put into this position. With the combined efforts of all of these reasons is why Donnie and Raph argue more in this film than in most other depictions of their relationship. Raph is angry that Donnie has been named leader instead of himself while Leo is away and Donnie is angry that Raph hasn't been pulling his weight to support them. To add to this matter is the fact that Raphael was secretly fighting as the Nightwatcher. This disagreement is further explained in the prequel comics by the fact that Donatello does not trust Nightwatcher, because no one knows what side he is really on and because he uses fear to accomplish his ends. Donatello states that Raphael uses many of the same tactics, and hints that he may suspect what his brother really does at night. Donatello also tries to guide Michelangelo away from the idea that vigilantes are heroes. Such action depicts Donatello as leader while Leonardo is in Central America, forced to be the responsible one in Leonardo's absence and teach his brothers what Leo would in his place. Don is clearly yet still unofficially established as the turtles' vice leader here, much more than in the other three movies.[8] However, Raphael felt he was better suited to be in charge and openly asks Splinter why he was not considered for the role. Splinter explains that Raph has not yet mastered control over his rage and is therefore not eligible to be leader.

In this film, Donnie also seems to show a bit more emotional care for Mikey than in the previous films. According to the short "Mikey's Birthday Party" Donnie helps Mikey with his job as a character entertainer named "Cowabunga Carl" by communicating with Mikey via cameras and headgear in order to remind him to hand-out flyers and to get cash (not checks). This seems to irritate Mikey to a large degree. (The 2007 movie never mentions age as a deciding factor). In the game tie-in his IQ is "off the charts". Don is voiced by Mitchell Whitfield.[9]

Reboot (2014)[edit]

Donatello appears in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles portrayed by Jeremy Howard. In this film, Donatello is the brains of the team and relies heavily on high-tech equipment and gear. His personality in this film is very calm and measured, and was also given a much more nerdy portrayal than in previous adaptations, on account of his large glasses with the middle taped. He also has a similar personality to his 1987 and 2003 counterparts where he is always talking of calculations and constantly confusing his brothers with them. He is also the one who stopped the toxic poison that Shredder had activated on Sacks Tower. Like Michelangelo and Leonardo, Donatello wears a glove on his left hand, has a tech pack on his shell and boots although you can partly see his toes making only him, Raphael and Michelangelo the only turtles to stay true to their other incarnations with the two toes. Donatello appears in the sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

DC crossover film[edit]

Donatello appears in the direct-to-video crossover film Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, voiced by Baron Vaughn. He appears to be the tallest and thinnest of the turtles, with his personality faithful to previous incarnations. He is the one who located the Batcave after an encounter with Batman. After becoming allies, he soon becomes fast friends with Batgirl and concocts an anti-mutagen alongside her to reverse the effects and nullify the plans of the Shredder and Ra's Al Ghul, who developed a mutant army out of their henchmen. Near the climax, Ghul breaks Donatello's arm from a counter attack, resulting in Donatello having to guide Michelangelo through disabling the mutagen-disseminating device, which he does by recklessly smashing its parts. At the film's conclusion, Donatello's arm is placed in a sling by Alfred before he partakes in eating pizza with his brothers and newfound allies. [10]

Video games[edit]

In the video games based on the 1987 animated series, Donatello has the longest range, although he cannot inflict as much damage as Leonardo, who has the second-longest range; one notable exception is the first NES game, where Donatello both did the most damage and had the longest range, though his attacks were slow. This has been carried over into the games inspired by the 2003 animated series. In TMNT: Smash Up, he is voiced by Sam Riegel.

Donatello is one of the main playable characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, where he is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. Donatello also appears in the 2014 film-based game, voiced by Oliver Vaquer.

Donatello is featured as one of the playable characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as DLC in Injustice 2, voiced by Joe Brogie. While Leonardo is the default turtle outside the gear loadout, he, Michelangelo and Raphael can only be picked through the said loadout selection similar to the premier skin characters.

Donatello is featured as a TMNT season pass in Smite as a Sun Wukong skin, voiced by Landon McDonald.

Donatello is also a main playable character in the upcoming sequel to Turtles in Time, titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge. In the game, Donatello oncemore carries a high range stat, balanced by an average power stat and low speed. This will be the first official turtles game in which he'll be played by his original voice actor, Barry Gordon.


  1. ^ "Heroes in a Half Shell Turn the Big 2–5". The New York Times. April 20, 2009. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Simpson, Janice C. (1990-04-02). "Show Business: Lean, Green and on the Screen". Time. Archived from the original on November 6, 2006. Retrieved 2010-03-03.
  3. ^ Greenberg, Harvey R. (1990-04-15). "Just How Powerful Are Those Turtles?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
  4. ^ TMNT Origin Story Archived June 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, official site. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  5. ^ Eighties Teenage Mutant Mutant Ninja Turtles To Make Appearance On Current Animated Series, Retrieved May 20, 2017
  6. ^ Franich, Darren (2011-06-14). "Sean Astin in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: He's Raphael | Inside TV |". Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  7. ^ "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cast Announced". SlashFilm. 2 November 2017.
  8. ^ "TMNT: The Rennaissance [sic] Reptiles Return". Kung Fu Magazine. Archived from the original on 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2009-12-27.
  9. ^ Breznican, Anthony (2007-03-20). "Raising shell". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-12-27.
  10. ^ Jackson, Matthew (February 13, 2019). "Exclusive: Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles meet in first animated movie crossover". SYFY WIRE.