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Why Was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4 Canceled And What Was It About?

Long before the franchise shifted its focus to animation with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem," everyone's favorite pizza-loving reptiles had a few live-action adventures, including an entire "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" trilogy in the 1990s.Even back then, New Line Cinemas saw the potential in a big-screen "Turtles" franchise and had no plans of stopping after three movies, but "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4" never saw the light of day.

Unfortunately, the Turtles only have themselves to blame for never getting a fourth movie, as "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" was so bad the studio couldn't continue their adventures. The movie added a time travel element to the series, transporting the Turtles and April O'Neil (Paige Turco) back to feudal Japan to take part in a rebellion against the Daimyo.

If it sounds incredibly ridiculous, it was, and critics wanted to make that known. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" scored a nasty 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, with audiences not offering much more love. Pair those horrible reviews with the movie's measly $42 million haul at the box office on a $21 million budget, and it's no surprise that audiences never got to see the insane movie that "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4" would have been.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4 would've introduced another turtle

Although the third film's poor reviews and box office performance ultimately led to New Line Cinema scrapping "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4," what little information that's out there about the movie makes it sound even wilder than its predecessor. 

"TMNT" co-creator Peter Laird shared his concept art for a fourth movie, titled "TMNT: The Next Mutation," revealing that it would've focused on the ooze further mutating the Turtles and Splinter, resulting in some gnarly transformations. Theoretically, Donatello would receive telekinetic abilities at the cost of his eyesight, Leonardo would get impenetrable skin, Michelangelo could turn into a human, Raphael would get a raptor-like transformation, and Splinter could turn into a muscular "super rat." 

It seems that the creative duo behind "TMNT" both wanted to take the fourth movie up a few notches, as fellow co-creator Kevin Eastman's concept art reveals his ideas for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: The Foot Walks Again," including the introduction of a fifth turtle named Kirby, named after the legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby. Eastman also had concepts for a new original villain called Spyder, who eventually would've evolved into Nano Spyder. The art also reveals he planned to bring back Super Shredder, the Foot Clan, and Casey Jones, who now had electric powers. There's also a design for Evil April, meaning the Turtles' long-time companion would've switched sides. 

Laird's and Eatman's ideas for "TMNT 4" were truly all over the place, giving upgrades and new mutations to almost every character. It would've been interesting to see how they pulled it off with the moviemaking technology of the '90s, but it's probably for the best it never came to be.