TMNT’s Pigeon Pete Is the Character 90s Cartoons Couldn’t Show


While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a property that is synonymous with Saturday Morning Cartoons and children’s action figures, the comic book origin of the franchise was decidedly darker than what could be shown on T.V. which is actually something that still rings true to this day as a reworked version of an older TMNT character, Pigeon Pete, is the perfect example of a character the ‘90s cartoon couldn’t show–at least, not the way he is depicted in the ongoing TMNT comic series.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arguably hit peak popularity upon the release of the late-‘80s through mid-’90s cartoon series and their corresponding action figures. However, the series actually began as a comic book that was geared for mature readers only. The original TMNT comic by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird was incredibly dark and gritty, something that was immediately proven true in the very first issue when the Turtles were shown brutally killing Shredder. Obviously, the cartoon had to tone it down a bit so that the Turtles could become more popular with children, but that didn’t stop the comic series from continuing down its established path of darker and more action-heavy comics. In fact, the current IDW Publishing TMNT series falls perfectly in-line with previous comic runs as it tackles much more mature topics than anything that could be explored in the cartoons. Not only that, but the comic has the luxury of introducing (or re-introducing) characters who are in no way appropriate for children to see–and the latest incarnation of Pigeon Pete is one of them.

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #35 by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, and Mateus Santolouco, the Turtles are getting reacquainted with their neighborhood after being forced to skip town for a little while following their battle against the Shredder. During this time, Michelangelo decides to check in with Slash, another mutant turtle who was experimented on the same way the Ninja Turtles were. When Mikey got to Slash’s hideout, he saw that he was partnered up with a known villain of the Turtles, a mutant cat named Old Hob, though upon further inspection of their home, those weren’t the only two mutants there. It was at this moment that Michelangelo and readers alike were introduced to this version of Pigeon Pete–and he is absolutely unhinged.

This issue shows Pigeon Pete standing next to a woman who was being held captive, which is unsettling enough, but then things go from weird to weirder after one takes into account Pete’s physical appearance and his mental state. Pigeon Pete looks like an ordinary pigeon except he has blood-red eyes, human teeth, and a full hand coming out of each of his wings, with one of those hands wielding a handgun that Pete is carelessly waving around in front of his terrified hostage. Not only is Pigeon Pete’s TMNT appearance absolute nightmare fuel, but his level of intelligence makes his possession of a firearm incredibly unnerving. It seems as though Pigeon Pete is about as smart as a regular pigeon, with the added ability to say, “Hi! I’m Pete” over and over again like a parrot while giving no indication that he is capable of saying much more than that.

From his actions and appearance in this issue, Pigeon Pete is not a character that is appropriate for children, which is a hilarious twist given that the character originated in two separate kids’ cartoons before entering the realm of the comics in the first place. In the ‘90s TMNT series, Pigeon Pete is simply a pigeon who Michelangelo takes in as a pet. It wasn’t until 2012’s TMNT animated series that Pigeon Pete was presented as a mutant who proved to be an ally of the Ninja Turtles. However, despite technically appearing in children’s programming in the past, this new incarnation of Pigeon Pete is way too intense for any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.

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