TMNT Reveals Which Turtle is the Most Brutal (& It’s Not Raphael)

Raphael isn't TMNT's toughest Turtle.

When fans think of the toughest Turtle in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it is likely they will think of Raphael as he comes off as the most aggressive one of the bunch and is the self-proclaimed heavy of the group, but one TMNT issue reveals that the most brutal Ninja Turtle is actually the team’s leader, Leonardo.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles consist of Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael with the later inclusion of Jennika in newer issues of the ongoing IDW comic series. While many would attribute Raphael’s heavy-hitting role to him being the most savage, it is actually Leonardo’s cold and calculating nature that gives him the edge over Raphael as the most brutal.

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In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #32 by Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz, and Ross Campbell, the Turtles have been attacked by one of Shredder’s deadliest warriors: Koya, a mutant, humanoid owl. At the time, the Turtles were taking refuge in an upstate property owned by April’s family following a recent strike the TMNT launched against Shredder. The Turtles thought the Foot Clan wouldn’t be able to track them to this location, but they were sorely mistaken when Koya and his team of elite killers got the drop on them. While Koya was able to take down most of the Turtles single-handedly, Leonardo quickly stepped in and handled the assassin himself. By the end of the fight, Leonardo sliced Koya’s neck with a shuriken, causing blood to ooze out of the mutant bird at a steady pace. Leo then told Koya that he can either keep fighting and die, or leave and potentially save his life–noting that at the current rate of blood loss, Koya would only have an hour to live if he didn’t get immediate medical assistance.

Raphael isn't TMNT's toughest Turtle.

The meticulous nature in which Leonardo took down Koya was absolutely chilling. While Leonardo didn’t murder the assassin, he proved that he could, and instilled a fear deep in his enemy’s heart. Koya knew that Leonardo could have killed him, but chose not to, and instead gave Koya himself the choice over whether he would live or die. Leonardo’s level of focus is far more terrifying here than Raphael’s brutish nature as slicing someone’s throat and telling them they have only an hour to live is unarguably way more cold-blooded than any amount of berserker rage Raphael has exhibited in the past.

A big reason for Leonardo being as cold as he is in this issue is due to the situation surrounding this battle against Koya. Leo was just rescued from the Shredder who manipulated him and altered his mind into believing that the Foot Clan is where he belongs rather than with his brothers. Essentially, Leonardo was a student of the Shredder for some time before going back to his family, and that evidently left a mark on the TMNT leader. Splinter’s training made Leonardo focused, and Shredder’s training made him ruthless–and Leonardo used the teachings of both masters to become the most brutal member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even over Raphael.