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How The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Die (And Who Kills Them)

The comic book series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin" (by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz, Isaac Escorza, Esau Ecorza, Luis Antonio Delgado, Samuel Plata, and Shawn Lee) offers a harrowing new take on the world of the iconic franchise, simultaneously feeling like something new while honoring the Turtles' original, darker origins on the page. Instead of four smiling, pizza-loving mutants, the miniseries features the titular Last Ronin, the final Turtle surviving in a future where his brothers and family were gruesomely murdered. The series' success has spawned multiple sequel series, including a direct "Last Ronin II" follow-up and an upcoming video game, as the future-set storyline immediately captured readers' attention.

The story follows Michelangelo and his past as he tries to find purpose in a world without Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, Master Splinter, and Casey Jones, showcasing his grief and unlikely path to becoming a deadly warrior. In the present day, he is forced to help lead a rebellion, working alongside April O'Neil and her daughter (and later Michelangelo's student) Casey Jones Jr.  Throughout each issue of the original series, readers find out how the Turtles meet their end in a conflict against the Foot Clan, Karai, and their eventual new leader, Hiroto. The comic isn't for the faint of heart and has tons of violence and heavy themes, equalling one of the most mature "TMNT" stories ever told. But how do the Turtles die in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin," and who kills them?

Raphael had a heroic ending

In "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2," the story heartbreakingly flashes back to the beginning of the end for the titular team. After the truce between the Foot Clan and the Hamato Clans is broken, the ninja organization ambushes the Turtles. As a result, Master Splinter is gravely wounded. While every Turtle is upset, Raphael is desperate to get revenge and goes alone at night to kill as many Foot Clan ninjas as he can with the goal of reaching and taking out the adopted daughter of Shredder and their leader, Karai.

Raphael mows down many Foot Soldiers, being significantly injured in the process, but continues to fight and make his way through them to get to Karai. The pair battle, each getting deadly blows in before Karai knocks them into the water. It's there, they both stab each other with Raphael sinking to the bottom as his twin sai floats away from him. Raphael dies but seriously injures Karai, putting her in a coma and ultimately setting in motion her son Hiroto taking her place in the future.

Raphael's anger foolishly puts him in a battle he could never win. Teaming up with his brothers to get revenge for the attack injuring Splinter would have been a much better way to try to stop Karai and the Foot Clan. However, blinded by rage, Raphael went out swinging, killing as many evildoers as possible before reaching Karai and ending her reign as the Foot Clan's leader— even if she survives the encounter.

Leonardo and Casey Jones died together

In "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin" #3, another attempt at peace ends with the fiery deaths of both Leonardo and Casey Jones.

In an attempt to bargain for peace, the Turtles and their allies meet with the Foot Clan, which is now led by Hiroto. This time, another villain attacks, and it's Baxter Stockman, the mad scientist best known for working alongside Shredder and using his technological prowess to make his army even more powerful. Stockman desires to capture Fugitoid, the Turtles' android friend. To accomplish the task, he sends an army of mighty robots to take on the Turtles. In the end, Stockman's robot army ends up being too much for the Turtles to handle, leading Donatello and Casey Jones Jr. to tell Michelangelo to protect April O'Neil and the rest of the group before facing another endless supply of bots. This buys them enough time for their escape in a fight they surely could never win.

Stockman sends another group of miniature robots, telling Fugitoid, "If I can't have you ... nobody will," activating an explosion that self-destructs, killing Casey and Donatello. When the dust settles, all that remains among the rubble and fire is Casey's hockey mask and Donatello's sword. So, while their loved ones who joined them on the deadly mission survive due to their heroism, the pair's sacrifice puts a permanent hole in the lives of April and Michelangelo — who would be forced to continue without them into the future.

Donatello and Splinter died by each other's side

In a flashback in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin" #4, readers learn the fate of Donatello and Splinter after a meeting with Hiroto to broker peace ends with their demise.

In the scene, Donatello and Splinter arrive at the Hamato Village, where they are supposed to be joined by Hiroto. However, he doesn't initially show; instead, he sends a messenger who assures them he aims for peace. When Hiroto finally arrives, that message of unity is revealed to be a lie. He makes himself known by immediately bragging how easy it was to lure them into his trap and that he has them where he wants them. Donatello, Splinter, and the Hamato Clan fight valiantly against Hiroto's forces. But Splinter's efforts to take out Hiroto put him in direct fire of the Foot Clan leader's archers. Splinter manages to throw his sword and impale Hiroto, seriously injuring him. Unfortunately, he and Donatello cannot withstand the barrage of arrows, with the student protecting his master before it's clear nothing will save them. The flashback sadly ends with the survivors of the Hamato Clan finding the bodies of Splinter and Donatello. 

Splinter and Donatello's death represents a new breaking point for Michelangelo, as he believes he is alone. After all, he'd lost almost every family member he had and was thrown into a deep sadness and anger. Despite offers to stay with the Hamato Clan, Michelangelo decides to travel the mountains by himself, starting his hardened path to becoming the Last Ronin. 

Michelangelo fought till the very end

Despite being the last member of the original Turtles standing, Michelangelo's quest for vengeance always seemed destined to send him down a path to his demise. And that's precisely what happens in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin"#5.

In the issue, Michelangelo takes to the streets, playing a crucial part in a rebellion against the Foot Clan. The Turtles' mission leads him to Hiroto's headquarters, where the villain becomes the future's Shredder, sporting armor similar to the group's longtime foe. However, Hiroto's Shredder armor features significant upgrades, including being made from liquid metal, making Michelangelo's last stand against him a considerable challenge. The long battle extends across multiple buildings and settings, culminating in the rebels successfully blowing up Hiroto's building as Michelangelo distracts him on the ground. 

After Michelangelo breaks Hiroto's armor, the villain cedes victory to him. It's all a ruse, though, as Hiroto fakes his malfunction, leading him to stab Michelangelo. The fight continues into the sewers, and when it spills outside and Hiroto begins to lose against his wounded opponent, he activates a failsafe in his armor, electrocuting them both. Hiroto dies, as Michelangelo is met by Casey Jones Jr., with the heroic Turtle dying by her side due to his injuries. Michelangelo's story ends positively as he reteams with the Turtles, Casey Jones Jr., and Master Splinter in the afterlife. 

Ultimately, Michelangelo's journey concludes by leading the rebellion to victory over Hiroto, as he gets his long-awaited revenge on Hiroto and sets up a better future for Casey Jr., who begins her own journey with a new group of Turtles.

Meet the next generation of Turtles

In "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin: Lost Years" miniseries (by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Ben Bishop, SL Gallant, Luis Antonio Delgado, and Shawn Lee), the series shows the second iteration of the Turtles grown up. The new group is four distinct-looking Turtles named Moja, Odyn, Yi, and Uno (all different words representing one in particular) with no masks carrying the collective weapons of the team preceding them. In the comic, the group bands together under the training of Casey Jones Jr. to take on a new threat in New York City.

The new Turtles will star in the official sequel series to "The Last Ronin," called "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Last Ronin II – Re-Evolution." Check out the cover for the first issue (which arrives on February 28) by Ben Bishop with the text synopsis below.

More than a decade after the Last Ronin defeated the Foot Clan, New York City finds itself in a state of steady decline. Now, the disparate gangs vie for economic and political control and that the chaos is taking its toll. It's clear to Casey Marie that if something isn't done soon, the city she knows and loves will be lost forever. So, whether they're ready or not, she and her young pupils must raise a new coalition and lead the charge to keep the peace. Witness the rise of the next generation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as they fight to restore peace to the streets they live below! Legendary TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman proudly presents the next epic chapter of The Last Ronin, reassembling the acclaimed creative team from the original monster bestseller for a second oversized, prestige format miniseries event!