Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV (partially found production material of unproduced "TMNT" sequel film; 1995-1997)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV was the planned fourth installment of the highly successful live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series. Despite nearly being produced, the film was scrapped, leaving only pieces of concept art and various promotional materials the only things that survived from it.
The Film's History
In 1994, a year after the release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, TMNT's creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird began conceptual work on what would've been the fourth TMNT film. According to Laird, the studio requested the duo to come up with potential ideas, which led Laird and Eastman to conceptualize a story revolving around the turtles and Splinter experiencing unexpected secondary mutations, which would give them new powers/abilities.
Not much else is known about the film's production, but an advertisement in a Playmates Toys catalogue claimed that the film would have been released during the holiday season in 1996, and merchandise for the film was being produced as part of a multi-million dollar promotional campaign.
The film was in and out of development hell for several years. Until eventually getting cancelled for unknown reasons. The most popular theories being due to the generally poor reception of the third film and/or the costs to produce new costumes and effects for the turtle's new forms would've been too expensive. Especially without the help of Jim Henson's Creature Shop, who left the franchise after the second film.
On May 11th, 2012, three different drafts of the film's script were sold on an online auction, but as of now, none of the scripts have been made public.
However, on January 7th, 2024, one of the scripts was uncovered by Lost Media Wiki user WoomsBoi through a catbox link, leaving the other two drafts still missing.
Little is known about the film's actual plot. However, some snippets of the plot have been revealed throughout the years. The main one, being that the turtles and Master Splinter are experiencing further mutations. As well as potentially having a darker tone.
Leonardo would have been given the ability to morph his skin into an impenetrable chrome-like surface, Raphael would have taken a more monstrous form with long claws and sharp teeth, Donatello would have developed telepathic powers which would also cause him to have poor eyesight, and Michaelangelo would have been able to transform into a more human-like appearance. Splinter also would have developed a second mutation, becoming a large, "super rat."  Shredder and the Foot played a role in the film as well. With Shredder experiencing new mutations whilst trying to rebuild the Foot Clan.
The film also featured the addition of a new turtle character named Kirby, after famous comic book artist Jack Kirby. Kirby had an undisclosed role in the film. Whether or not he would've served as friend or foe to the main turtles is currently unknown. There are some pieces of concept art where Kirby isn't even a turtle at all, appearing to be either an alien or a severely deformed mutant.
According to the Playmates catalogue page, the film might have featured a plot involving an alternate, post-apocalyptic dimension. This is supported by certain pieces of concept art with new variations of known characters such as "Evil April" and "Kasey."
Though it was never fully produced, the film's influence can still be seen throughout the franchise to this day.
The idea of the main turtles experiencing further mutations was reused for the final two seasons of the original animated series (though only the "Raptor Raph" design was used for all four turtles). The "Next Mutation" subtitle was reused for the short-lived live-action Saban TV series, as well as the idea of adding a fifth turtle character, Venus De Milo. Raptor Raph became the inspiration behind the "Gameraph" plot point in volume four of the Mirage TMNT comic series. Donatello's mutation is believed to have been the inspiration for his design in the Michael Bay films. The film's concepts even went on to inspire another attempt at a live-action film in 2001, which also ended being scrapped in favor of the 2007 TMNT animated film.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (lost original comedy version of action movie; 1987)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (found John Du Prez score of superhero film; 1990)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "Nightmares Recycled" (lost production materials of unfinished episode of animated series; mid-late 2000s)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures "The Forever War" (partially found production material of cancelled story arc of comic series; 1995)
- Las Tortugas Ninja (partially found Mexican Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics; 1990-1993)
- Comics Alliance's article on the film, which showcases various pieces of concept art.
- Peter Laird's TMNT blog.
- The initial concept. Retrieved 08 Jan '22
- Heritage Auction's page on various TMNT memorabilia, including the scripts. Retrieved 09 Jan '22
- The January 27th, 1995 draft Retrieved 07 Jan '24
- Leo's mutation. Retrieved 08 Jan '22
- Raph's mutation. Retrieved 08 Jan '22
- Donnie's mutation. Retrieved 08 Jan '22
- Mikey's mutation. Retrieved 08 Jan '22
- Splinter's mutation. Retrieved 08 Jan '22
- Other plot details. Retrieved 09 Jan '22
- Kirby's role in the film. Retrieved 09 Jan '22
- The alternate dimension mentioned in the catalogue. Retrieved 09 Jan '22
- The film's legacy. Retrieved 09 Jan '22
- Concept art for the cancelled 2001 film, which was based on "The Next Mutation." Retrieved 09 Jan '22