The Ending Of TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Explained

Contains spoilers for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem"

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" began as a cult black-and-white (and surprisingly violent) comic book series from creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, which debuted in 1984. The basic premise of the series was — well, it's all right there in the name, isn't it? Essentially, every iteration of "TMNT" –- from the original comics to the various shows to the movies -– follows four teenagers (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael) who happen to be turtles mutated by glowing green ooze that makes them sentient and humanoid, who are then trained to become ninja warriors by their also-mutated rat master and father figure, Splinter.

The 2023 CG-animated version, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem," follows much of the same template. Splinter (voiced by Jackie Chan) raises the four titular turtles (Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, and Brady Noon) to fear humans and use their ninja skills to protect themselves (and collect groceries). Eventually, however, the Turtles meet up with Superfly (Ice Cube), and his cadre of villainous mutants — voiced by an all-star cast, including Seth Rogen (who executive produced the film) as warthog Bebop — who want to wipe out all of humanity.

Luckily, the film does go down its own path by the end. In fact, it makes some narrative choices that change up the "TMNT" status quo. This includes the Turtles' status in the world, the fates of many of the villains, and how the new franchise might implement other iconic characters going forward.

What you need to remember about the plot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" indeed follows many of the same beats of other "TMNT" media: Four baby turtles get covered in glowing ooze, turning into teenage mutant ninjas, and they are raised by a giant rat sensei.

The recent "Mutant Mayhem," however, emphasizes the turtles and their separation from the human world. In this version of the story, the four turtles have lived their whole lives in solitude, as Splinter is afraid of humans due to his upbringing as a rat in the city (unlike the Splinter who wants them to defend the weak, or even the former human of the comics).

The turtles, then, are justifiably jealous of the human world and feel isolated due to not being able to participate in it. For this reason, when the time arrives, it makes sense that a) the turtles end up helping April O'Neil (Ayo Edebiri), but also b) why they initially fall in with Superfly's mutant gang, since it's the first time they ever met other mutants before, and furthermore, the first time they ever felt truly accepted. Superfly is a villain made specifically for the movie, and he is a super-strong, super-intelligent humanoid fly. However, eventually, the Turtles have to fight off Superfly when it becomes clear his ultimate plan is to wipe out all humans.

What happened at the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

At the end of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem," the Ninja Turtles have to work together to stop Superfly's genocidal plan. They accomplish this by destroying the superweapon Superfly had been building throughout the film. The Turtles even eventually get the help of Superfly's mutant minions — which include classic "TMNT" comic and cartoon mainstays like Bebop as well as Rocksteady (John Cena), Mondo Gecko (Paul Rudd), Genghis Frog (Hannibal Buress), and more — who were never really on board with killing all the humans anyway. The mutants even confess to the Turtles that they only went along with Superfly's villainous plan because they were convinced by him that it was the only way they'd ever be accepted in the world.

However, after the initial battle, while they all indeed succeed in destroying Superfly's super-weapon, Superfly, unfortunately, transforms into "Super Duper Fly," a giant kaiju-like monster rampaging throughout New York City. It then takes all of the Turtles' individual skills — Leonardo's leadership, Raphael's brute strength, Michelangelo's ability to think on his feet, and Donatello's superior battle tactics (as well as his knowledge of defeating giant monsters from watching a lot of anime like "Attack on Titan") — to finally take Super Duper Fly down once and for all, saving the world and all of humanity.

The Ninja Turtles get acceptance from the humans

During the Ninja Turtles' climactic fight with the rampaging Super Duper Fly, the media, unfortunately, misreports that they are in cahoots with the villainous monster, even aiding him in the destruction of New York City. That is, until April O'Neil is able to infiltrate a live news broadcast in the middle of the big kaiju fight and explain to the citizens of the city (after overcoming her stage fright) that the Turtles are actually fighting to the death to protect the people.

Afterward, when Super Duper Fly is about to crush the Turtles "like pistachios" and things are at their most dire, the humans of New York rise up and help save them from certain doom, giving them the leg up to escape and finally defeat the giant fly monster for good. After saving the city, the Ninja Turtles then become instant celebrities, signing babies, getting asked for selfies, etc.

In this way, the ending disproves both Superfly and Splinter's views on humanity. Namely, while discrimination does indeed exist (such as Splinter being attacked in the past, as well as the evil TCRI (Techno Cosmic Research Institute) corporation that wanted to extract the ooze or "milk" the Turtles), the Turtles learn that humans can also be helpful, kind, and supportive. By defending the Turtles, the people of New York proved to Splinter that they were indeed worth saving. At the very end, the Turtles even get accepted to go to high school like they always wanted to.

Shredder is introduced in after-credits sequence

Like practically all post-MCU superhero movies these days — including non-MCU superhero films like 2019's "Shazam!" and 2018's "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" — 2023's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" includes a post-credits sequence at the end of the film that teases an upcoming villain. In it, we find the evil CEO of TCRI, Cynthia Ulrom (Maya Rudolph) lamenting that she still needs to capture the Turtles at some point to continue extracting (i.e. "milking") them and finish her plan of creating mutated animal-human hybrid super-soldiers. However, she also explains to an underling how now that the Turtles are fully integrated into the public, it'll be more difficult to capture them.

However, she knows exactly the person to pull that job off ... which of course leads to the film introducing this film universe's version of the iconic "TMNT" villain, Master Shredder. Unfortunately, we only see him briefly from behind, covered in shadows, and standing on a dark, rainy rooftop at night. It's also obvious this version will be possibly even more spiked-covered and extreme than most previous versions of the character. Presumably, his role will be to track the Ninja Turtles down and bring them to Utrom and TCRI — perhaps to keep the company's name clean, as he'd be hired as a third-party mercenary.

What the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem means

"Mutant Mayhem" is first and foremost about overcoming prejudice. The Turtles deal explicitly with prejudice multiple times throughout the story. In a particularly harrowing flashback — when the Turtles were still babies — we see Master Splinter try to bring his adopted sons out into the human world, but they are attacked and almost killed by an unruly mob of humans. And then, later in the film, the Turtles are blamed for the rampage on the city alongside Superfly simply because they're also mutants.

Furthermore, the film is also about the need for active allyship. As mentioned in a previous entry, during the climax of the film, the humans end up helping the Turtles to give them a leg-up, both as signs of solidarity, but also thematically showing humanity's worth being saved. The citizens of New York City put their own lives on the line to help protect the Turtles and become more than just helpless victims that reap the rewards of the heroes' sacrifice and hardship, becoming active allies in their own salvation.

The importance of found families

Another important message of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" film is the importance of found families. This, of course, refers to Splinter taking care of the baby Turtles and raising them as his own. We see the struggles he goes through with learning to trust his growing children to make their own decisions as they get older, despite the dangers of the world. However, it also refers to the mutants as well. After TCRI goons capture their creator Dr. Baxter Stockman (Giancarlo Esposito) during the opening of the film, Superfly rescues his fellow mutants from harm and raises all of them on his own as a big brother to all of them. Even Baxter Stockman's motivation for creating the mutants in the first place was to create a family of his own.

Luckily, at the end of the film, The Turtles and Splinter allow Superfly's former mutant family to live with them in the sewers. We even see all the mutant characters –- which includes Mondo Gecko, Bebop and Rocksteady, Wingnut (Natasia Demetriou), Genghis Frog, Ray Fillet (Post Malone), Leatherhead (Rose Byrne), and Scumbug –- settled into the Turtles' home as they get ready for school. In fact, Scumbug and Splinter are seen to be a romantic couple by the end. It's an interesting turn of events, as Splinter has never had any romantic entanglements in any other version of the "TMNT" property. So it'll be interesting to see how the Turtles deal with being raised by a stepmother for the first time.

Rejecting toxic families

Another vital message that "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" imparts is the importance of finding a healthy family unit that accepts you for who you are. For instance, this universe's version of Splinter is extremely overprotective of the Turtles. While his fears are mostly reasonable and his overprotectiveness comes from a place of love and caring, he nonetheless isolates his children and tries to force them into a life of solitude and loneliness.

Splinter loosens up by the end of the story, mainly because of his interactions with the villain of the film, Superfly. As mentioned in the previous entry, after Dr. Stockman was captured by TCRI, Superfly took care of the other younger mutants and raised them as his own. However, Superfly raised the other mutants to be as hateful and vengeful as him and thus was able to gaslight and impose his will on his mutated siblings to enact his plan to eradicate humanity.

During the climax of the film, Superfly tries to get Splinter to help him fulfill his plan — telling him explicitly that they're basically the same: They both hate humans, and they are both trying to protect their families from humans by isolating them and instilling them with anger and fear. Splinter at that moment realizes that he's on the same path as Superfly with his aforementioned overprotectiveness and contempt for humans, and he decides to help fight against Superfly's ideology instead.

Another possible explanation of the ending

The ending could also have a much more sinister connotation — even if it's most likely unintentional by the filmmakers themselves. This would be the fact that "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" potentially perpetuates a version of the "Model Minority Myth." Essentially, the "Model Minority Myth" states that a marginalized community only deserves recognition from the majority population when they do good deeds or are productive in society in some way (usually needing to go above and beyond to achieve this). In countries, like the United States, which has a history of slavery, colonization, immigration, and rampant marginalization, it's common for the powerful majority to dictate what is needed to constitute being a "model citizen" (hence the name). The myth is also often used as a cudgel to deny rights or citizenship to other, separate marginalized identities.

While the Ninja Turtles are heroes to the world and accepted by human society, they are seemingly only accepted precisely because they're heroes and wouldn't have been otherwise. April even says that the only reason she wasn't scared of the Turtles when she first saw them was because they had saved her life and rescued her scooter from criminals. It's even played as a comedy beat, where the Turtles ask if other people would accept them as she would, and she flat-out says, "No." This is a dark sentiment, since their sentience and intelligence should be enough to guarantee them a place in society.

What the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem could mean for the franchise

With any new reboot of a beloved franchise like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," there's always the question of "Why now?" or "What does this new version bring to the table?" Luckily, "Mutant Mayhem" treads on some new, exciting territory for the "TMNT" franchise.

For one, all the mutant villains in "Mutant Mayhem" –- including "TMNT" mainstays like Bebop and Rocksteady -– are completely reformed by the end of the story (besides Superfly, of course, who was created specifically for the film anyway). This is interesting because while it seems like that would limit new stories for sequels, it also opens up opportunities to tell new stories with these characters as well. For instance, since all the mutants are seemingly reformed, will they no longer be villains for the Turtles to fight in the future? Or will some of them relapse into villainy? How will society at large deal with a known community of mutants? There are many questions and story possibilities there for the franchise to explore further.

Who is Cynthia Utrom?

Cynthia Utrom is another villain character, like Superfly, who was created specifically for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem." She is the CEO of the evil TCRI and is on a mission to "milk" (i.e. "extract ooze from") the Turtles to create a race of animal-hybrid super soldiers to sell to the U.S. military. However, while she doesn't seem to have an obvious analog from the "TMNT" comics or any of the other associated cartoons or films, she might be related to — or possibly be a new version of — another popular villain from the "TMNT" universe. Cynthia Utrom's last name is actually the name of the alien species that the famous villain Krang belongs to. He's the pink, brain-shaped alien who rests in the belly of a giant robot. Furthermore, Krang and the Utroms are known to be associated with TCRI in the comics and various cartoon continuities, and in some continuities, they are actually even responsible for the ooze that created the Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Not only that, but Cynthia's look — including her yellow-and-pink glasses, general color scheme, and elevated hair-do that evokes the color and shape of the original robot's silver antennae — seems to possibly suggest that she could be a female version of the robot controlled by Krang or another Utrom alien antagonist. But we'll have to wait for the "Mutant Mayhem" sequel to know for sure.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem's alternate ending

As mentioned earlier, the main antagonist of most "TMNT" properties — Master Shredder — shows up briefly in the after-credits sequence of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem." Also as mentioned earlier, he doesn't do much but menacingly stand on a dark, seedy rooftop. In an interview with, "Mutant Mayhem" director Jeff Rowe said Shredder was actually in some of the original versions of the film. At some point, Shredder's role was cut down considerably — apparently due to Rowe wanting to keep the villain a mutant like the heroes — and thus Shredder only shows up in the film's post-credits scene.

However, if Shredder were to be in early versions of the film, that means the ending would've been much different as a result. Now, while we don't know what Shredder's role would've been in those earlier versions, his involvement would most likely have changed the ending significantly, if not made it entirely different. Perhaps, like in the cartoons and 2016's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows," Shredder himself was floated as being the one behind the animal-hybrid experiments in previous drafts instead of Cynthia Utrom. With Shredder, too, the themes of alienation and prejudice wouldn't be as much a central focus the way they are with a mutants-versus-mutants storyline, so the film's overall message would've changed, too.