The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is a brisk 101 minutes, but it packs in the in-jokes, references and Easter eggs. From the obvious to the less-so, here are TK items we noticed in the film. SPOILERS AHEAD!
#1. April Passing Out Is a Thing
When April passes out upon meeting the Turtles, it's in keeping with tradition. Not only did she pass out the first time she met them in the 1987 cartoon, but it also happened in the second issue of the 1984 comic book.
#2. A Very Subtle 'Arrested Development' Joke
When Will Arnett is seen making a sandwich in his apartment, he's making a parmesan and mustard sandwich, which is a reference to a recurring joke in the third season of Arrested Development. On the show, Arnett and other characters would sometimes be seen eating parmesan and mustard, a reference to Gene Parmesan, a private investigator played by Martin Mull (seen below), who also played Colonel Mustard in Clue. Hence parmesan and mustard.
#3. Shredder Wants Some "Turtle Soup"
Before launching his offensive on the Turtles' lair, Shredder declares, "Tonight I dine on turtle soup!" If that sounds cartoonish, it might be because it was one of his catchphrases on the cartoon. Turtle soup itself has also been a running gag in the comic books and the various shows.
#4. Testing the Ooze on "Rabbits"
When Eric Sacks (William Fichtner) says they were going to test the ooze on rabbits first, that's a reference to Usagi Yojimbo, a rabbit samurai who made his comic book debut in 1984, the same year as the Turtles. While his universe was separate from the Turtles, Usagi showed up in several cross-overs, including the cartoon and Turtles comics.
#5. The Classic 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Theme
When Donatello hacks into a computer about a third of the way through the movie, you can hear it playing the 1987 cartoon's theme song. Later on, if you listen closely to the Turtle Van's horn, it also plays the theme.
#6. A Hip-Hop Christmas Album
When Michelangelo mentions a Christmas hip-hop album he's been working on with Raphael, that's probably a reference to "We Wish You a Turtle Christmas," a half-hour direct-to-VHS video from 1994 that includes the "Wrap Rap."
#7. "Alien" Turtles?
When news of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first leaked online, word was the movie would be called Ninja Turtles and the Turtles would be aliens. Rumor has it that the resulting fan outcry led to the production team retooling their movie's origin story to hew closer to the Turtles' traditional mutant roots. That outcry was referenced in a quick joke when April (Megan Fox) starts explaining the Turtles to her boss (Whoopi Goldberg) and Vern (Will Arnett). Vern suggests, "So they're aliens." To which April replies, "No, that's stupid. They're turtles."
Despite the "fixed" story, the turtles are still somewhat alien. It turns out the ooze that mutated them was alien in origin, which leads to our next bullet point.
#8. The Utroms and the TCRI Connection
The "alien" ooze seen in the flashback videos bears the acronym "TCRI." In the comics, TCRI stands for "Techno-Cosmic Research Institute," which is a shell company controlled by an alien race called the Utroms. The Utroms are about two feet tall, look like brains, and have several tentacles they often use to control human-like exo-bodies. In the 1987 cartoon Krang is not specifically called an Utrom, but most people think of him as one. Even though they look gross, the Utroms are actually mostly good guys with a few evil splinter groups. The ooze is explained in the comics as a byproduct of the Utroms' development of teleportation technology. It also looks like there might be Utroms in the Japanese tapestry Sacks (Fichtner) shows April. In the image below you can see one in its natural form on the far left. In the center of the image, there appears to be a giant samurai sitting down. This might be an Utrom inside one of their frequently super strong humanoid bodies. This could mean wonderfully weird things in the event of a sequel.
#9. Sacks vs. Saki
For a long time everyone following news around the movie thought William Fichtner's character (Eric Sacks) was the Shredder. Whether his character was rewritten over outrage that Shredder wouldn't be Japanese or whether he was never supposed to be Shredder, his name still has fans speculating that there's something more to him. That's because his last name is awfully close to the Shredder's real name, Oroku Saki.